Palestinian terror groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad quickly rejected US President Donald Trump’s peace plan after it was unveiled Tuesday, saying “all options” were open to respond to it. Many Palestinians protested in the West Bank, as the US embassy issued a travel advisory warning of potential terror attacks.
Trump said his administration’s plan calls for a two-state solution and includes detailed maps of territory. He said the future Palestinian state will be contiguous, but would not be able to threaten Israel’s security interests. He said the plan more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, while also recognizing Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank.
The Palestinian Authority has already rejected the proposal, accusing Trump of being biased in favor of Israel as he has adopted policies that bolster Israel at their expense. PA President Mahmoud Abbas also spoke Tuesday evening and rejected the plan.
Ahead of Trump’s speech, Abbas held a rare phone call with Hamas head Ismail Haniyeh in which they agreed to work together against the plan. Abbas’s Fatah faction has been at loggerheads with Hamas for over a decade.
Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said the terror group rejects the “conspiracies” announced by the US and Israel and that “all options are open” in responding to the US administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“We will resist the occupier and we announce our rejection of the deal of the century,” Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV quoted him as saying.
“We are certain that our Palestinian people will not let these conspiracies pass,” he said. “So, all options are open. The (Israeli) occupation and the US administration will bear the responsibility for what they did.”
“We won’t accept any substitute for Jerusalem as the capital of the Palestinian state,” he told AFP.
Trump said the plan will enshrine Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and enable Israeli sovereignty in parts of the West Bank, while also providing for an eventual Palestinian state with “eastern Jerusalem” as its capital.
Another Gaza-based terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), said the plan was “an opportunity to reverse the recognition of Israel.”
“Trump’s plan is an opportunity to restore unity within the Palestinian people,” said PIJ senior official Khader Habib. “The Palestinian Authority should leave the Oslo Accord which is doing us nothing but harm.”
Lebanese terror group Hezbollah denounced what it labeled as “the deal of shame” announced by “the savage Trump administration.”
In a statement issued in Beirut Tuesday, the Iranian-backed militant group described the plan as dangerous, adding that it will have very negative repercussions on the future of the region and its people.
It said the US has capped decades of blind support for Israel, its occupation and aggression against Arabs by trying to eliminate the historical and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.
“This deal would not have taken place had it not been for the complicity and betrayal of a number of Arab regimes, secretly and publicly involved in this conspiracy, “ it added, in a reference to Gulf Arab countries.
The statement said the deal announced in Washington Tuesday “confirms that resistance is the only option” to liberate occupied land.
Widespread protests, including violent riots, were reported by Palestinian media in Ramallah, Nablus and throughout the Gaza Strip following the plan’s unveiling.
Thirteen Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli forces in the protests, the Red Crescent said.
One person was taken to hospital after being hit with a rubber bullet, while 12 others were suffering from exposure to tear gas, a spokeswoman said.
An AFP reporter said around 200 Palestinians confronted Israeli forces near Ramallah in the West Bank, burning photos of Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The US Embassy in Jerusalem issued a travel advisory warning of possible Palestinian terror attacks and telling US citizens to avoid traveling to Gaza and reconsider travel to the West Bank “due to terrorism, potentially violent civil unrest, and the potential for armed conflict.”
“Terrorists may attack with little or no warning, targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities. Violence can occur in Jerusalem and the West Bank without warning,” the advisory read.
“US government personnel can travel freely in Israel, except to areas in close proximity to Gaza, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt,” it added. “Travel of US government personnel is extremely limited throughout the West Bank, and occasionally portions of Jerusalem are off limits to personnel. The US government prohibits its employees from traveling to Gaza.”
Jordan tepid on plan
US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the plan’s release, said they expected negative responses from the Palestinians, as well as Turkey and Iran, but were hopeful that Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab nations to have peace treaties with Israel, would not reject it outright.
The officials said they expected Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others to cautiously welcome the plan.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that a two-state solution that brings about the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital constitutes the only path to achieving peace.
“A two-state solution that realizes the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people, especially its right to freedom and a state along June 4, 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital… is the only way to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace,” he said, according to the state-run Petra news agency.
The Cairo-based Arab League said it would meet Saturday at the request of the Palestinians to discuss the plan.
Arab League chief Ahmed Abuel-Gheit said the Palestinian reaction would define the Arab response to Trump’s peace plan. He spoke after meeting with Palestinian official Jibril Rajoub at the Arab League headquarters.
AFP contributed to this report.