European countries said to demand changes to US peace plan

At Palestinians’ request, countries trying to persuade Trump administration to include recognition of East Jerusalem as capital

US President Donald Trump (right) alongside his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting at the White House,  February 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)
US President Donald Trump (right) alongside his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting at the White House, February 23, 2017. (AFP Photo/Saul Loeb)

European countries are reportedly attempting to persuade Washington to make changes to US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The countries are acting at the request of the Palestinian Authority, which is demanding that the plan include a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders and a recognition of East Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state, the London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Hayat reported Thursday.

Western diplomatic sources are said to have confirmed the correspondence, while expressing doubt that the Trump administration would consider all the European demands, according to the Israeli news site Ynet.

On Wednesday, another London-based Saudi newspaper, Asharq al-Awsat, reported that the Trump administration plan may include US and international recognition of a Palestinian state.

The plan, the report said, calls for placing the Old City of Jerusalem under “international protection.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaking at the UN Security Council on February 20, 2018. (Screen capture/YouTube)

The report quoted “knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources” in Paris as saying that the US was planning to present its plan in the framework of an international conference that would be held in one of the Arab capitals, most likely Cairo, with Israelis in attendance.

However, the sources did not say when the US administration would come out with its plan, the details of which remain under wraps.

According to Wednesday’s report, the US plan requires the Palestinians to give up their demand for a “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel.

In addition, large Israeli settlements in the West Bank would remain in place, while small ones would be “relocated,” the report said.

The US plan also calls for expanding the PA’s security and administrative authorities in areas A and B of the West Bank, the report added.

Washington is planning to collect $40 billion to help establish a Palestinian state and its government institutions, the sources told the newspaper. The money is not intended to “buy” Palestinian acceptance of the peace plan, they stressed.

The sources also claimed the plan allows Israel to retain security control over the borders with the West Bank, while responsibility for security of the Gaza Strip would be handed to the Egyptians.

After the report on Wednesday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that European Union countries agreed to push for changes prior to the unveiling of the American plan, but offered no details on the changes.

Palestinian-US relations have been strained since Trump’s December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to relocate the embassy there. The announcement was met with worldwide condemnation, and outraged Palestinian officials said it disqualified Washington from playing any role in brokering Middle East peace due to its “bias” toward Israel.

Since then, the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration, and top Palestinian officials have demanded the US president reverse the decision.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

read more: