Arab envoys at White House peace event lacked full details, diplomat tells paper
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Bahrain, Oman, UAE all now back Arab League's rejection

Arab envoys at White House peace event lacked full details, diplomat tells paper

Arab official tells Haaretz nations who attended Trump proposal’s unveiling were given only general information before they agreed to come, realized later they could not support it

President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint statement in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. The news conference was held to announce the Trump administration's plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP)
President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu participate in a joint statement in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2020 in Washington, DC. The news conference was held to announce the Trump administration's plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images/AFP)

The three Arab nations that sent envoys to the unveiling of Washington’s controversial new peace plan Tuesday did so because they had not been fully informed by the Trump administration of the details of the proposal, the Haaretz newspaper reported Saturday evening, citing an unnamed Arab diplomat.

All three nations — Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates — on Saturday backed an Arab League decision that rejected the US plan, seemingly dashing any hopes the administration may have had of Arab support for its efforts.

The official told the newspaper the White House had urged the nations to attend the event, sending them a document “with generalized details about the initiative, which mostly focused on [it including] a Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem.”

But, he said, “when they got into the details of the plan they understood there was no true Palestinian state and no capital in East Jerusalem and, more importantly, that there was an attempt to promote a move of dividing Al-Aqsa.”

The mosque, the third holiest site for Muslims, would remain under Israeli jurisdiction according to the plan. The concern about a change in the status quo there relates to a clause in the Trump plan that suggests US backing for greater openness to possible Jewish prayer at the site, though the administration has denied any such intentions.

Omani Ambassador to the US Hunaina Al-Mughairy in the White House, January 28, 2020 (Raphael Ahren)

“These are clauses no Arab or Islamic nation could agree to, so in the end the foreign ministers aligned with the position opposed to the Trump plan.”

The paper said discussions between Palestinian leaders and Arab nations more open to the Trump proposal continued until the last minute, as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sought to convince them to support his cause.

The US proposal would give the Palestinians a state with limited self-rule in some 70 percent of the West Bank, as well as the Gaza Strip. It would include a capital in the area of East Jerusalem, but not the key Arab neighborhoods that sprawl eastward from the Temple Mount.

The proposal also gives Israel rule over 30% of the West Bank and makes heavy demands of the Palestinians, including demilitarization, recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and ongoing Israeli overall security control in the West Bank.

Initially several Arab nations, including the three who attended the unveiling and Saudi Arabia, said the proposal should serve as a basis for talks. But on Saturday the Arab League unanimously rejected the plan, saying it did not answer “the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.”

US President Donald Trump gestures during a press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) in the East Room of the White House on January 28, 2020, in Washington. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/AFP)

A senior official in the Palestinian Authority had on Friday spoken of Ramallah’s disappointment in Arab nations’ muted and sometimes-supportive response to the US proposal, saying the PA had been hoping “for much better.”

Hussein al-Sheikh, PA Civil Affairs Minister, member of the Fatah Central Committee and a close confidant of Abbas, had said there was concern that Arab nations, who the PA had hoped would back their position, may become a “dagger in Palestinian people’s side.”

And Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday blasted Arab countries who gave general backing to the plan, condemning it as “treason.”

Arab leaders vowed Saturday “not to… cooperate with the US administration to implement this plan.”

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