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United Nations says committed to pre-1967 borders, stresses settlements illegal

Responding to Trump proposal, secretary general says peace attainable based on UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements

The Times of Israel liveblogged the official announcement of the US administration’s Mideast peace proposal and other news Tuesday as it unfolded.

Russian FM urges coordination on Mideast peace plan

Russia’s foreign minister is calling for multilateral efforts in helping negotiate peace in the Middle East.

The Trump administration is set to announce its long-awaited peace plan on Tuesday. The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel and to pave the way for it to annex large parts of the West Bank.

Asked about the US plan, Sergey Lavrov says the so-called quartet of Middle East peacemakers — America, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations — should analyze the proposal.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaks to the media during a press conference in Moscow, Russia, June 24, 2019. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

Lavrov also emphasizes that it’s essential to listen to the Palestinians’ position. He says it’s also important for the Arab League to weigh in. The league has already put forth its own peace initiative.

— AP

Attorney general files indictment against Netanyahu at Jerusalem District Court

Following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s announcement that he is abandoning his bid to receive parliamentary immunity, the attorney general is not wasting any time and a short time ago filed the indictment against Netanyahu at the Jerusalem District Court.

“The indictment was filed a short time ago… as is required by law,” his office says.

It is not yet clear when the prime minister’s trial will actually begin, though most commentators doubt it will happen before the March 2 election.

Iran’s president urges huge election turnout

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani calls for a massive turnout in next month’s parliamentary election, which looks set to be challenging for the coalition government.

“We hope that all our people will come to the polls and participate because these elections will have consequences for our regional and international policy,” as well as in Iran, he says.

Rouhani, a moderate conservative, makes the appeal during a televised speech to mark the inauguration of water sanitation projects near Tehran.

In this photo released by the official website of the Office of the Iranian Presidency, President Hassan Rouhani speaks in a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Iran, January 15, 2020. (Office of the Iranian Presidency via AP)

The alliance of moderates and reformers that propelled Rouhani to power in 2013 is scrambling to avoid losing its majority in the February 21 election.


Army prepares for possible West Bank violence ahead of peace plan’s announcement

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instructs the Israel Defense Forces’ top brass to be on high alert in the West Bank ahead of the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“The minister instructed the troops to be prepared for the scenario of an immediate escalation [of violence] in light of the presentation of the plan and the agitation of the street, without the cooperation of the Palestinian Authority,” his office says.

Throughout the day, Bennett has toured the West Bank and met with IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi, the head of the Central Command Maj. Gen. Nadav Padan, and the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division Brig. Gen. Yaniv Alaluf.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during the Makor Rishon conference at the International Convention Center in Jerusalem, December 8, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“The IDF and troops in the field are prepared for any eventuality. We have before us days that will determine borders and the application of sovereignty,” Bennett says. “Threats by the Palestinians will not deter us.”

— Judah Ari Gross

PM to fly from US to Moscow, prompting speculation jailed Israeli to be freed

The prime minister will depart from Washington tomorrow, but instead of returning to Israel he will fly to Moscow to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Speculation abounds, with Channel 12 news saying his visit may herald the release of jailed Israeli Naama Issachar — who is awaiting an expected pardon from Putin. Other outlets believe it is more likely the two leaders will discuss the new US peace plan.

PMO says Netanyahu will update Putin on Trump deal, regional developments

The Prime Minister’s Office says Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin will deal with “regional developments and the Deal of the Century” — the US peace proposal.

But local media isn’t buying it. Ynet is now joining Channel 12 in assuming that the premier will return with Naama Issachar.

Sources close to Netanyahu: ‘Obsessive’ AG didn’t even wait for end of US summit

Sources close to the prime minister assail Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit for immediately filing the indictment against Netanyahu at court after the latter announced earlier in the day that he was giving up his bid for immunity.

“If anyone still had doubts that there is an obsessive persecution against Prime Minister Netanyahu, they’ve now been given clear proof,” the unnamed associates tell multiple Hebrew media outlets.

“The eagerness to file the preposterous indictment against the prime minister is so great, they couldn’t even wait a single day for the historic summit in Washington, one of the most important in the nation’s history, to conclude.”

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit holds a press conference at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem, announcing his decision to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases, November 21, 2019. (Hadas Parush/FLASH90)

IDF arrests man who apparently crossed into Israel from Lebanon

Israeli troops arrest a man who appears to have crossed into Israel from Lebanon, the military says.

The suspect was found near the Bedouin village of Arab al-Aramshe, near the Lebanese border.

“IDF troops, working with the Israel Police and [Shin Bet], were called to the scene and are interrogating the suspect in the field. It appears that the suspect crossed the border from Lebanese territory into Israeli territory,” the IDF says in a statement.

An Israeli patrol along the Lebanon/Israel border fence near Rosh Hanikra, on November 10, 2016. (Doron Horowitz/Flash90)

— Judah Ari Gross

Ariel mayor: PM should accept US proposal if it means limited Palestinian state

A West Bank settlement umbrella group said earlier today they oppose any US peace plan that allows for a Palestinian state.

But breaking with his colleagues, Ariel Mayor Eli Shaviro calls on Netanyahu to accept the plan, saying he can live with a demilitarized Palestinian state on 70 percent of the West Bank, which has widely been reported to be what the Trump plan will offer.

Moreover, he asserts that the Palestinian Authority will reject the proposal as Ramallah has long vowed to do, and that Jerusalem accepting it now will allow Israel to move forward with plans to immediately annex parts of the West Bank.

“I and other heads of municipalities in Judea and Samaria [West Bank] believe that this was an irresponsible statement [issued by the Yesha Council],” Shaviro says in a statement.

Eli Shaviro (center), seen at a polling station in Ariel on October 22, 2013. (Flash90)

— Jacob Magid

Bennett: Why was it so urgent for prosecutors to humiliate PM when he’s abroad?

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Yamina party, attacks state prosecutors for filing charges against the prime minister while he is abroad for talks on the US proposal for Mideast peace.

“Why was it so urgent for them to humiliate Prime Minister Netanyahu when he’s abroad, representing all of us?” he says. “They could have waited a day or two for him to return home.”

Palestinians protest Trump plan in Gaza City

Thousands of Palestinians are protesting in Gaza City ahead of the Trump administration’s announcement of its peace plan, which is expected to strongly favor Israel.

The protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and raise a banner reading “Palestine is not for sale.”

During the rally, Gaza’s Hamas rulers express rare support for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah movement, welcoming his call for a broad meeting of Palestinian factions.

Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya says Hamas and “all the factions” will join the meeting, planned for after the Trump plan is announced later Tuesday. He says: “When we are united, neither Netanyahu nor Trump dare to take away our rights.”

— AP

West Bank settlements report rapid growth in 2019

The population of Jewish settlements in the West Bank surged by more than 3 percent in 2019, well above the growth rate of Israel’s overall population, a settler group says. It predicts even higher growth this year thanks to a nascent building boom made possible by friendly policies of the Trump administration.

The data, released ahead of US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited peace plan, indicate that evacuating settlements is no longer a viable option for international peacemakers, says Baruch Gordon, director of West Bank Jewish Population Stats.

“We’re here and we’re not going anywhere,” he says.

A picture taken on November 19, 2019 shows a new housing construction site in the Israeli settlement of Elazar, near the Palestinian city of Bethlehem south of Jerusalem, in the West Bank. (MENAHEM KAHANA / AFP)

His group, using official Interior Ministry data, says the population of West Bank settlements rose to 463,353 people as of Jan. 1, up 3.1% from 449,508 a year earlier. In comparison, Israel’s overall population rose 1.9% in 2019.

Upcoming release of US peace plan fails to stir much interest in US media

The imminent publication of the US administration’s peace plan may be the talk of the town in Jerusalem and Ramallah, but in Washington it’s getting almost no attention at all.

All major newspapers, as well as the morning television shows, focus on US President Donald Trump’s impeachment woes. Other topics making the headlines are the aftermath of basketball star Kobe Bryant’s death and the spread of China’s coronavirus.

The US Capitol building, center, is seen next to the bottom part of the Washington Monument, left, before sunrise on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019 (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The “Deal of the Century,” on the other hand, is hardly mentioned at all.

— Raphael Ahren

White House said to tell PM it opposes immediate annexation steps

The White House has made it clear to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it opposes immediate unilateral moves by Israel after the announcement of the American peace proposal, such as annexation of the Jordan Valley or other parts of the West Bank, Channel 13 news reports.

The network says this position was also conveyed to Blue and White leader Benny Gantz when he met with US President Donald Trump yesterday.

It says the administration is hoping to gain Arab support for its plan, and understands that unilateral moves by Israel will foil any such backing.

U. President Donald Trump (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk to reporters along the colonnade at the White House on January 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images/AFP)

Smotrich: AG ‘a self-appointed sovereign’ out of touch with will of the people

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich accuses Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit — who today filed an indictment against the prime minister in three criminal cases — of being “a self-appointed sovereign” out of touch with the will of the people.

Mandelblit, Yamina’s Smotrich tweets, “is not authorized to speak in Israel’s name. To summarize the last few days’ events in two sentences: Israel supports Benjamin Netanyahu — the self-appointed sovereigns are against him. Israel is against [Arab MK Heba Yazbak] — the self-appointed sovereigns support her. That’s the whole story.”

Joint List MK: Trump has become ‘chairman of Likud — White House branch’

Ayman Odeh, head of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, says the US peace proposal “is a targeted assassination of the two-state solution.”

He tells Channel 12 news: “The important thing is that the two peoples and their leaders here come to agreements, and not the corrupt Trump with corrupt Netanyahu sitting in the White House and deciding for the people here.”

Fellow party MK Yousef Jabareen adds that the US president has become a servant to Netanyahu’s whims, calling Trump “the chairman of Likud — White House branch.”


Balloon bombs land in Sderot, Kiryat Gat

Balloon-borne bombs have landed in the areas of Sderot and Kiryat Gat in southern Israel, police say.

Sappers were called to defuse the explosives.

Arab League to hold urgent meeting on Trump’s Mideast plan

The Arab League says it will convene an urgent meeting on Saturday in response to US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Hossam Zaki, the pan-Arab body’s deputy secretary, tells reporters that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will attend to discuss the “so-called Deal of the Century.”

The extraordinary meeting comes on the back of a Palestinian request to the League, which is headquartered in Cairo.


Link to livestream of Trump announcement

The livestream of US President Donald Trump’s remarks on the release of the US peace proposal will begin here in some 45 minutes.

A clock is counting down to the press conference. The video will also be available at the top of the blog at 7 p.m.

Netanyahu: A historic day for Israel, one of the most important days of my life

Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a tweet, says: “This is a historic day for the State of Israel and one of the most important days of my life.”

There are just under 30 minutes until the world finds out exactly why he is so pleased.

Channel 12 report: US will back Israel annexing West Bank land within days

Contradicting earlier reports by Channel 13 news, Channel 12 is reporting that the US will support Israel redrawing its borders and annexing large West Bank territories within days.

Hopefully things will become clearer at 7 p.m.

Arab MK says Abbas refused to receive text of US plan earlier today

Joint List MK Ahmad Tibi tells Channel 12 that the US administration tried today to send the text of its peace proposal plan to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Ramallah refused to accept it.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Fourth National Forum for the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the forum’s opening session in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 9, 2019. (Nasser Nasser/AP)


Watch live now: Trump unveils US peace plan with Netanyahu at his side

The press conference on the US plan for Mideast peace is about to begin. Watch it here.

Report: Envoys for Bahrain, UAE at White House presser

Channel 12 reports that ambassadors of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are present at the White House for the press conference.

There is no independent confirmation of the report.

US officials say Trump plan calls for Palestinian state, settlement freeze

US officials say President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of East Jerusalem, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing a proposal without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a “two-state resolution” to the conflict.

The officials say the plan more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object.

A view overlooks the West Bank settlement of Ari’el, January 28, 2020. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)

The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Trump of being biased in favor of Israel as he has adopted policies that bolster Israel at their expense.

The plan does call for a four-year freeze in new Israeli settlement construction, during which time details of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Trump’s announcement.

However, it is not immediately clear if the freeze could be extended if a final deal is not concluded in the four years.

— AP

Trump: Palestinians ‘deserve better life, to achieve extraordinary potential’

Trump is now speaking. The US president says support for the plan by both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz shows “peace transcends politics in Israel.”

He also says Palestinians “deserve a far better life — they deserve a chance to achieve their extraordinary potential.”

Trump: Plan fundamentally different from past diplomacies

“This vision for peace is fundamentally different from past diplomacies,” Trump says. “Even the most well-intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual framework.”

He says: “Today, Israel is taking a giant step toward peace… Netanyahu informed me that he is willing to endorse the vision as a basis for direct negotiations.”

Trump says plan calls for two-state solution, Jerusalem to remain undivided

The president says the detailed US plan calls for a two-state solution, includes detailed maps of territory.

He says the future Palestinian state will be contiguous. Also says Jerusalem will remain Israel’s “undivided capital.”

No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes, Trump says

“No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes” as part of the US plan, Trump says.

Trump has both said Jerusalem will not be divided and that the plan includes a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem.

A bit confusing to say the least.

US president calls on Palestinians ‘to meet challenges of peaceful coexistence’

“We are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence,” Trump says.

This includes laws enshrining human rights, “stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad” and other terror groups and “halting financial compensation to terrorists.”

Trump to Abbas: Come to the table, ‘we’ll be with you every step of the way’

In an appeal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Trump says if Palestinians come to the table, “we’ll be with you every step of the way.”

He says his plan “could be the last opportunity” for Palestinians to get an independent state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and US President Donald Trump speaking at the White House on January 28, 2020. (YouTube screen capture)

Trump says ‘time for Muslim world to fix mistake of 1948, recognize Israel’

“It is time for the Muslim world to fix the mistake it made in 1948 when it chose to attack instead of recognizing the new state of Israel,” Trump says.

PM: Trump 1st world leader to recognize our sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria

Netanyahu has begun speaking.

He welcomes the presence of envoys from Bahrain, Oman and the UAE who are indeed in the audience.

He says this day reminds him of May 14, 1948 when US President Truman recognized the State of Israel.

“I believe that down the decades and perhaps down the centuries we will also remember January 28, 2020 because on this day you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage.”

He says Trump has “charted a brilliant future” for Israelis, Palestinians and the region.

Netanyahu: Trump ‘recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all Jewish communities’

Netanyahu says Trump is “puncturing [the] big lie” that Israel is illegally occupying territory of its forefathers. “You are recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all the Jewish communities, large and small alike.”

He says past plans failed because they “tried to pressure Israel to withdraw from vital territory like the Jordan Valley.”

But Trump “recognized that Israeli must have sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and other strategic areas in Judea and Samaria.”

Netanyahu: Israel will apply its laws to Jordan Valley and all settlements

Netanyahu says Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley and all settlements.

For at least four years Israel will maintain the status quo “in areas that your plan does not designate as being part of Israel in the future.”

“At the same time Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and to other areas that your plan designates as part of Israel and which the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel.”

PM says Israel owes Trump, Jared Kushner ‘eternal debt of gratitude’

Netanyahu tells Jared Kushner: “The Jewish state owes you, and it owes President Trump an eternal debt of gratitude.”

US presidential adviser Jared Kushner speaks to Channel 13 news, October 29, 2019 (Channel 12 screenshot)

Israeli military intel chief: Peace proposal may spark instability

The head of Israeli Military Intelligence says US President Donald Trump’s peace proposal may spark instability within Palestinian society and throughout the Arab world, but refrains from making larger predictions.

Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman, speaking in Tel Aviv at the same time as the unveiling of Trump’s plan, says the deciding factor for the immediate ramifications of the plan will be how it is received by young people and average citizens, and how they will force their governments to act.

“We haven’t seen [the plan] yet, but we assume that it will have an impact on the region,” Hyman says.

Military Intelligence chief Maj. Gen. Tamir Hyman, speaks at the Calcalist newspaper’s conference in Tel Aviv on December 31, 2018. (Screen capture: Calcalist)

— Judah Ari Gross

Peace Now: US plan ‘as detached from reality as it is eye-catching’

Left-wing group Peace Now says the Trump peace plan is “as detached from reality as it is eye-catching. The plan’s green light for Israel to annex isolated settlements in exchange for a perforated Palestinian state is unviable and would not bring stability.”

“This is not how peace is built.”

It says: “Any outline that does not include the establishment of a Palestinian state on the basis of the pre-1967 lines with minor land swaps, the evacuation of deep settlements and two capitals in Jerusalem will find its way into the dustbin of history.”

Hamas: Palestinians must unite to fight occupation on all fronts

Hamas says Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip “must unite to fight the occupation,” both on the ground, legally and diplomatically.

Khalil al-Hayya, member of Hamas’s Political Bureau, says Palestinians now need “a unified strategy… the world must see Palestinian outrage over the deal.”

Asked at White House if Oman backs plan, envoy says ‘We haven’t seen it yet’

Asked if her presence at the White House press conference means her country accepts Trump’s peace plan, Omani Ambassador to the US Hunaina Al-Mughairy says “we haven’t seen the plan yet.”

She notes friendliness towards Israel and that the Gulf state’s late leader hosted Netanyahu in Muscat.

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

— Raphael Ahren

Settler leaders to meet with Netanyahu before making statement on plan

Senior settler leaders who are accompanying Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington will be meeting with the premier in the next hour to be briefed on the details of the Trump peace plan, the Yesha settlement umbrella council says in a statement.

At the conclusion of that meeting, the group will issue a statement reacting to the plan.

White House releases fact sheet on peace plan, as well as full proposal

The Trump administration has issued a fact sheet about the newly released peace proposal. You can read it here.

The full proposal has also been released, and can be viewed here.

Palestinian protesters in Ramallah burn photos of Netanyahu, Trump

Palestinians are demonstrating in Ramallah in response to the US announcement of its peace plan which is seen as being more favorable towards Israel than any proposal in history.

The scope of the protests is not immediately clear, but photos show demonstrators burning photos of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Donald Trump.

Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump and Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a demonstration in the West Bank city of Ramallah on January 28, 2020, against the peace plan proposal (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

US Middle East peace plan ‘could prove a positive step forwards,’ UK says

Britain gives a cautious welcome to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, after he unveiled his proposal with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.

Downing Street says Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke to Trump earlier. “The leaders discussed the United States’ proposal for peace between Israelis and Palestinians, which could prove a positive step forwards,” a spokesman says.

In this handout photo provided by the House of Commons, Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures during the first Prime Minister’s Questions of the year, in the House of Commons in London, January 8, 2020. (Jessica Taylor/House of Commons via AP)


Settler leader: Plan far from perfect but we must act wisely

The head of the Efrat Regional Council in the West Bank, who deals with the Yesha settlement umbrella group’s foreign affairs, says the US plan “includes many achievements and alongside them difficult challenges for Israel and the settlements.”

Oded Revivi says the plan “is far from perfect” and says settler leaders must consider “how to realize and leverage the plan for Israel.”

He says though it may be difficult for settlers to swallow some of the proposal’s concessions, “we must act wisely and not just out of difficult gut feelings.”

Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi (Avi Hyman Communications)

Amir Peretz: Government has no legitimacy for diplomatic moves before election

Labor-Gesher-Meretz says Israel’s future must be decided in direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

He says its timing weeks before a national election means “there is no legitiamcy for the government to carry out diplomatic moves, despite American backing, and must be dealt with after the election.”

Labor Party leader Amir Peretz speaks in Tel Aviv, January 20, 2020. (Flash90)

Bennett: We support annexation, won’t allow Palestinian state

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett is naturally supportive of Israeli extending sovereignty “over all settlement” areas in the coming days.

However, he says, “We will not allow the Israeli government to recognize a Palestinian state under any circumstances.”

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett arrives at the Knesset to file the national-religious Yamina alliance’s list of candidates for the upcoming elections, January 15, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90 )

Jordan warns of ‘dangerous consequences’ to unilateral Israeli action

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi warns of “dangerous consequences to unilateral steps by Israel, which threaten to create a new reality on the ground.”

He says a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, based on the two-state solution, is “the only path to a lasting, comprehensive peace.”


PM to bring annexation of Jordan Valley, all settlements for cabinet vote Sunday

Netanyahu tells reporters in Washington that he will bring the annexation of the Jordan Valley and all West Bank settlements for a vote in Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman says Israel can move forward on annexation whenever it wishes.

Asked if Israel must wait to annex settlements that would be part of the Jewish state under the plan, Friedman tells reporters: “No, Israel does not have to wait at all.”

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during the Kohelet Forum Conference at the Begin Heritage Center, in Jerusalem, on January 8, 2020. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

Blue and White backs US plan, says Gantz should be the one to implement it

Blue and White says it is supportive of the new US peace plan, and that it is “entirely consistent with the principles of state and security espoused by Blue and White.”

It says the proposal “provides a strong, viable basis for advancing a peace accord with the Palestinians, while preserving the existing arrangements between Israel and Jordan and Egypt, and enabling their expansion to additional countries in the region.”

And it adds that to implement it, Israel needs “a strong and stable government, led by an individual who can direct the fullness of his time and energy toward ensuring the country’s security and its future” and not by “a defendant facing serious charges of bribery, who would be entirely steeped in his personal and legal interests.”

Blue and White chief Benny Gantz speaking to reporters in Washington, D.C., January 27, 2020 (Elad Malka)

Arab League chief: Palestinian reaction to US plan will define Arab response

Arab League chief Ahmed Abuel-Gheit says the Palestinian reaction to the US peace plan will define the Arab response.

He spoke after meeting with Palestinian officials at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo.

Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Aboul Gheit attends the Arab Foreign Minister’s meeting in Cairo on July 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)

US Embassy in Israel warns Americans after Trump’s peace plan announcement

The US Embassy in Israel has issued a warning to American citizens following Trump’s peace plan announcement.

The embassy statement prohibits US government employees and their families from travel in most of Jerusalem’s Old City, the West Bank and Gaza Strip in light of “widespread calls for demonstrations” by Palestinians.

“United States citizens should avoid areas where crowds have gathered and where there is increased police and/or military presence,” the embassy statement says.

Abbas: ‘We’ll send US plan to dustbin of history, our rights are not for sale’

In his first public reaction to the newly announced US peace proposal, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas makes his opinion clear.

“No, no and no to the ‘Deal of the Century,'” he says. “Jerusalem is not for sale. All of our rights are not for sale or bartering.”

He says the Palestinian people will send the US plan to “the dustbin of history.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejects the newly announced US peace proposal in Ramallah, January 28, 2019 (video screenshot)

He calls the plan “the slap of the century” and says the Palestinians will respond to it with “slaps” of their own.

— with Adam Rasgon

Shaked, settler leaders back annexation, reject Palestinian state

Right-wing and settler leaders are issuing statements with a similar gist, voicing full-throated support for annexing settlements and the Jordan Valley as soon as possible, but ruling out any Palestinian state.

Yamina’s Ayalet Shaked, the head of the Samaria Regional Council and the head of the Har Hebron Regional Council all make comments to that effect.

Yamina candidate Ayelet Shaked interviewed on Channel 13 on January 18, 2020. (Channel 13 screen capture)

US proposal includes possible transfer of Arab ‘triangle’ towns to Palestinians

The US peace proposal includes a reference to the possibility of land swaps that would see Israeli Arab towns in the so-called “triangle” southeast of Haifa handed over to Palestinian control — a possibility that has long been rejected by Israeli Arab leaders.

“These communities, which largely self-identify as Palestinian, were originally designated to fall under Jordanian control during the negotiations of the Armistice Line of 1949, but ultimately were retained by Israel for military reasons that have since been mitigated.”

It “contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties that the borders of Israel will be redrawn such that the Triangle Communities become part of the State of Palestine.”

Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who has been espousing a population transfer for years, notices this clause and “welcomes President Trump… adopting my 2004 plan.”

Yisrael Beytenu party leader Avigdor Liberman speaks with the media during a faction meeting in the Knesset on December 2, 2019 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

US plan rules out Palestinian ‘right of return,’ sets out 3 options for refugees

The US peace proposal rules out the Palestinian “right of return,” and sets out three options to solve issue of Palestinian refugees.

It says “proposals that demand that the State of Israel agree to take in Palestinian refugees, or that promise tens of billions of dollars in compensation for the refugees, have never been realistic.” It says refugees “have been treated as pawns in the broader Middle East chessboard.”

It offers three options for refugees who want a permanent place of residence:

1. Absorption into the State of Palestine.

2. Local integration in current host countries (subject to those countries’ consent).

3. The acceptance of 5,000 refugees each year, for up to 10 years (50,000 total refugees), in individual Organization of Islamic Cooperation member countries who agree to participate.

US plan: Keep status quo at Temple Mount — but allow all faiths to pray

The US peace proposal says the status quo at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount should be maintained, but also that all faiths should be able to pray there — which is a change from the status quo.

The plan says “the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should
continue uninterrupted.” It goes on to say “Jerusalem’s holy sites should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths. People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion.”

Jews and Christians can today visit the Temple Mount, but only Muslims are allowed to pray there.

Palestinian Mulism worshipers gather at the Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 31, 2019 on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

The discrepancy can perhaps be traced to a statement in regards to the status quo that “all of Jerusalem’s holy sites should be subject to the same governance regimes that exist today.” Keeping the status quo may then refer only to governance of the sites.

EU foreign policy chief says will study US plan, supports return to negotiations

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell says the US peace proposal is “an occasion to relaunch the urgently needed efforts towards a negotiated and viable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

He says the EU will study the plan, based on its commitment to “a negotiated and viable two-state solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.”

He says the union “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.”

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell answers a question during a news conference in Brussels, Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2020 (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Odeh: Plan gives green light to revoke citizenship of Arab citizens of Israel

Head of the Joint List, MK Ayman Odeh, says of the US peace proposal’s acceptance of a potential redrawing of borders that would turn Israeli Arab towns into part of Palestine: “This is the inevitable end-point of Trump and Bibi’s racist agenda, a green light to revoke the citizenship of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian Arab citizens who live in northern Israel.

“We are at a crossroads. All of us — Arab and Jewish — who believe in democracy and peace must decide to stand together and refuse to allow these despots to strip our brothers and sisters of their citizenship.”

Joint List leader Ayman Odeh arrives for a meeting with party members at the Knesset on September 22, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Turkey rejects US ‘annexation plan that kills 2-state, usurps Palestinian lands’

Turkey strongly rejects the US peace plan for the Israelis and Palestinians, describing it as “an annexation plan that aims to kill the two-state solution and usurp Palestinian lands.”

A Turkish Foreign Ministry statement also rejects US President Donald Trump’s declaration to keep Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital, saying “Jerusalem is our red line.”

“The United States’ so-call peace plan was still-born,” the ministry says in a statement. “The Palestinian people and their lands cannot be bought with money.”

The ministry says: “we will not support any plan that is not accepted by Palestine. Peace cannot come to the Middle East without an end to the occupation.”

— AP

German FM says US proposal raises questions that need to be addressed

Germany’s foreign minister is reacting cautiously to the Middle East peace plan announced by US President Donald Trump, saying it raises questions that need to be addressed.

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

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas leaves the Elysee presidential palace after attending the weekly Cabinet meeting on June 19, 2019 in Paris. (ludovic Marin/AFP)

— AP

Emirates says US peace plan ‘offers important starting point for negotiations’

The United Arab Emirates says the US peace proposal “offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba says the UAE “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.” It says the new plan is “a serious initiative” and stresses that “the only way to guarantee a lasting solution is to reach an agreement between all concerned parties.”

Emirati Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba gestures during an event with US House Speaker Paul Ryan, at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy, in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Hezbollah slams Trump’s ‘deal of shame,’ says it will have negative consequences

The Hezbollah terror group attacks the Trump administration’s “deal of shame,” saying it comes at the expense of the Palestinian people.

The organization says the American offer “is a very dangerous step which will have negative consequences for the region and its people.”

Supporters of the Shiite Hezbollah terror group gather to watch the transmission on a large screen of a speech by the movement’s leader Hassan Nasrallah, in the town of Al-Ain in Lebanon’s Bekaa valley on August 25, 2019. (AFP)

Iran condemns Trump peace plan as ‘treason of the century’

Iran’s foreign ministry says US President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan amounts to the “treason of the century” and is bound to fail.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif says on Twitter that the “so-called ‘Vision for Peace’ is simply the dream project of a bankruptcy-ridden real estate developer,” in reference 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,” writes Zarif, whose country does not recognize Israel.


United Nations says committed to resolving conflict, settlements illegal

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

He says the UN is 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.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric says the secretary-general saw the announcement of the US plan for the Middle East, which was presented by President Donald Trump.

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, talks to the audience at the opening ceremony of the United Nations climate change summit in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, June 30, 2019. (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)

Dujarric says: “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.”

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

— AP

AIPAC, J Street offer predictably contrasting views on Trump peace plan

Two US Jewish groups, AIPAC and J Street, have issued contrasting responses to the new US peace proposal.

The pro-Israel lobby hails Trump’s efforts “to set forth ideas to resolve the conflict” and calls the plan a solid basis for negotiations. It urges the Palestinians to “forego the path of violence, boycotts and the criminalization of differences at international forums and return to peace talks with Israel.”

Liberal advocacy group J Street, meanwhile, denounces the plan as having “zero chance of serving as the basis for renewed diplomacy” and says it is “the logical culmination of repeated bad-faith steps this administration has taken to validate the agenda of the Israeli right.”

“By endorsing Israeli sovereignty over vast portions of the occupied West Bank, the president and his team appear to be empowering Israeli leaders to carry out unilateral annexations that would flagrantly violate international law, trample on the rights of Palestinians and grossly endanger Israel’s future as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

Egypt calls for ‘careful’ examination of Trump plan

Egypt calls for a “careful” examination of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump.

“Egypt calls on the two concerned parties to undertake a careful and thorough examination of the US vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue,” the foreign ministry says in a statement.

It says negotiations would aim for “a comprehensive and just peace and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”

In this photo from June 19, 2019, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi speaks during a press conference in Bucharest, Romania. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda, File)


Deri buoyant: ‘We must not miss historic opportunity’ to extend sovereignty

Shas chief Aryeh Deri is exuberant over the newly announced peace proposal, particularly America’s recognition of Israeli rights to parts of the West Bank.

“The rights of the Israeli people in its land were tonight given historic recognition!” his office says in a statement. “Shas congratulates Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump on the historic and stirring recognition in the Israeli people’s rights to the Land of Israel.”

Deri says Shas will support immediate annexation of West Bank territories. “We must not miss this historic opportunity and we must not put it off.”

Shas party chairman and Minister of Interior Affairs Aryeh Deri (L) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a ceremony marking the six year anniversary of death of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, at the Knesset, November 4, 2019. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Pompeo believes Israel will adopt peace plan ‘no matter who wins election’

In an interview with Channel 12 news, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he believes the administration’s peace proposal will move forward “no matter who is elected” in the March 2 election.

The excerpts from an interview with Pompeo, which is to be aired Wednesday, were provided in Hebrew only, and not in the original English.

Pompeo tells the network the plan will bring peace and prosperity to the region. “Arab states understand times have changed,” he said of ostensible Arab support for the proposal.

In this file photo taken on December 11, 2019, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo holds a press conference at the State Department in Washington, DC. (Saul Loeb/AFP)

On the matter of annexation, Pompeo says: “The Israelis will make decisions according to Israeli law. We’ve seen how Israelis handle the matter of settlements [legally], and they always find their way.”

Protesters chant outside US Consulate in Istanbul

Protesters have gathered outside the US Consulate in Istanbul to protest the new US peace plan which is seen as highly favoring Israel.

A video from the scene appears to show several hundred people at the demonstration.

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