Iran, Turkey slam Trump peace plan as UAE, Saudi Arabia urge negotiations
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UK's Johnson: Could prove a positive step forward

Iran, Turkey slam Trump peace plan as UAE, Saudi Arabia urge negotiations

UN, Jordan, Egypt and Western countries reiterate support for two states based on pre-1967 borders; Ankara calls outline ‘stillborn,’ Tehran says it’s ‘a nightmare’

Jordanians take part in a demonstration near the US embassy in Amman, January 28, 2020, to protest against the US peace plan. (Khalil MAZRAAWI/AFP)
Jordanians take part in a demonstration near the US embassy in Amman, January 28, 2020, to protest against the US peace plan. (Khalil MAZRAAWI/AFP)

International reactions came quickly following US President Donald Trump’s unveiling of his administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan at the White House on Tuesday.

Many Western countries and international bodies said they needed time to assess the plan, reiterating their support for the longtime international consensus favoring a two-state solution to the conflict on the basis of the pre-1967 borders.

Jordan gave the plan a cool reaction, saying it remained committed to a two-state solution based on Israel’s pre-1967 lines. It also said it rejected any unilateral move by Israel, referring to the annexation plan.

Egypt, the first Arab country to reach a peace deal with Israel, urged Israelis and Palestinians to carefully study the plan, and Saudi Arabia expressed support for a return to negotiations. The European Union said it needed to study the outline more closely.

But the United Arab Emirates issued a strikingly positive reaction, with its ambassador to the United States saying on Twitter that his country “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.”

“This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years. The only way to guarantee a lasting solution is to reach an agreement between all concerned parties. The UAE believes that Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community. The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework,” he said.

Along with fellow Gulf Arab states Bahrain and Oman, the United Arab Emirates sent its ambassador to Trump’s announcement alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, despite the country’s not recognizing the Jewish state.

Saudi Arabia expressed its longtime support for the “brotherly Palestinian people,” and said it backed “all efforts aimed at reaching a just and comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause.”

“The Kingdom appreciate the efforts of President Trump’s Administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and Israeli sides; and encourages the start of direct peace negotiation between the Palestinian and israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States,” Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry said in a statement.

Qatar called for a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and for allowing Palestinians into Israel as refugees, but also called for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The State of Qatar welcomes all efforts aiming towards a longstanding and just peace in the occupied Palestinian territories. It also appreciates the endeavors of President Trump and the current US administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict,” Qatar’s foreign ministry said in a statement carried by the country’s QNA news agency.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the United Nations remained committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis in resolving their conflict on the basis of UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.

He said the UN was also committed to realizing the vision of two states “living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 borders,” according to his spokesman.

“The position of the United Nations on the two-State solution has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound,” said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

Those resolutions call all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal and call for a solution based on the borders before the 1967 Six Day War, with agreed land swaps.

The European Union’s top diplomat said that the bloc remains “firm and united” behind the quest for a negotiated two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The European Union will study and assess the proposals put forward,” EU representative Josep Borrell said. But he added: “This will be done on the basis of the EU’s established position and its firm and united commitment to a negotiated and viable two-state solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis, respecting all relevant UN resolutions and internationally agreed parameters.”

Borrell acknowledged that “today’s initiative by the United States provides an occasion to re-launch the urgently needed efforts towards a negotiated and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

But he made it clear that European capitals see the need for more inclusive negotiation ahead.

“The EU reaffirms its readiness to work towards the resumption of meaningful negotiations to resolve all permanent status issues and to achieve a just and lasting peace,” he said. “It urges both sides to demonstrate, through policies and actions, a genuine commitment to the two-state solution as the only realistic way to end the conflict.”

US President Donald Trump (R), joined by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaks during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, January 28, 2020, to announce the Trump administration’s much-anticipated plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Borrell’s statement did not say if he had consulted some or all EU members before issuing his reaction, but most capitals have previously expressed support for a negotiated solution.

Iran said the plan amounted to the “treason of the century” and was bound to fail.

“The shameful peace plan imposed by America on the Palestinians is the treason of the century and doomed to fail,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Twitter that the “so-called ‘Vision for Peace’ is simply the dream project of a bankruptcy-ridden real estate developer,” referring to Trump.

“But it is a nightmare for the region and the world and, hopefully, a wake-up call for all the Muslims who have been barking up the wrong tree,” wrote Zarif, whose country does not recognize Israel and routinely threatens to destroy it.

Turkey slammed the proposal as “stillborn,” calling it an “annexation plan” intended to destroy hopes for a two-state solution.

“The United States’ so-called peace plan is stillborn,” Turkey’s foreign ministry said in a statement. “This is an annexation plan aimed at killing a two-state solution and extorting the Palestinian territory. Palestinian people and its land cannot be bought for money.”

Turkey repeated its longtime mantra that Jerusalem was Ankara’s “red line.”

“We will not allow any step that will legitimize Israel’s occupation and persecution. We will always stand by brotherly Palestinian people. We will work for an independent Palestine in the Palestinian territory,” the ministry said. “We will not support any plan that is not accepted by Palestine. There will be no peace in the Middle East without an end to the occupation policies.”

Russia called on Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate directly to find a “mutually acceptable compromise.”

“We do not know if the American proposal is mutually acceptable or not. We must wait for the reaction of the parties,” Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov told Russian news agencies. “The important thing is that Palestinians and Arabs express their opinion,” he said, adding that Moscow would study the US plan.

Palestinian leaders had already resoundingly rejected Trump’s plan when he presented it alongside Netanyahu at a White House press conference. No Palestinian official was present at the launch.

Palestinians take part in a demonstration in the West Bank city of Nablus on January 28, 2020, to protest against US President Donald Trump’s peace plan proposal. (Jaafar ASHTIYEH / AFP)

Netanyahu is expected to visit Moscow on Wednesday to present the plan to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia has repeatedly said it is prepared to host direct talks between the Israeli and Palestinian camps.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the plan was “clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort.”

“A peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians that leads to peaceful coexistence could unlock the potential of the entire region, and provide both sides with the opportunity for a brighter future,” Raab said in a statement. “Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent. We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations.”

Earlier, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Trump to discuss the plans. Downing Street said they “could prove a positive step forwards.”

UK Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said that the proposal “is not a peace plan. It is a plan to lock in illegal Israeli colonisation and deny Palestinian rights. It is a threat to peace.”

Germany’s foreign minister reacted cautiously, saying the plan raises questions that need to be addressed.

Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a statement that “only a negotiated two-state solution that is acceptable to both parties can lead to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” He added that “on that basis, every impetus laid out in such a way as to set the long-stalled Middle East peace process in motion again is to be welcomed.”

Maas said the US proposal “raises questions” that Germany will discuss with its European partners. Those, he said, include the involvement of the two sides in a negotiating process and “its relationship to recognized international parameters and legal positions.”

Chancellor of Austria Sebastian Kurz wrote on Twitter: “I welcome the release of the #US plan which hopefully brings new momentum to the [Middle East Peace Process] having been in a deadlock for far too long. We call on the parties to start negotiations on the basis of this plan under #US leadership with a view to achieving a two-state-solution.

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