The Palestinian Authority on Wednesday appeared to reject the outlines of the Trump administration’s Israel-Palestinian peace plan as presented by an Israeli TV report, saying that anything short of a state based on the pre-1967 lines was unacceptable.
Any peace plan that does not provide for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, with “all” of East Jerusalem as its capital, will fail, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman, said in comments published by the official PA news site Wafa.
His remarks were apparently made in response to an Israeli Channel 13 TV report on some of the specifics of the much-anticipated American proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which the TV station sourced to a participant in a recent briefing by an unnamed “senior American” official. The White House dismissed the report as inaccurate speculation.
Channel 13 reported that the Trump plan provides for a Palestinian state in 85-90 percent of the West Bank, with the sovereign capital of Palestine located in “most of the Arab neighborhoods” of East Jerusalem.
The report also said the plan endorses Israel sovereignty over parts of East Jerusalem and the “holy basin,” an area including the Old City and its immediate environs. However, it said the proposal calls for Israel, the Palestinians, Jordan and possibly other countries to “jointly run” the “holy basin.”
Abu Rudeineh also said “the address for achieving a just and lasting peace is the Palestinian leadership, which affirms that any proposals regarding the political process must be based on international legitimacy and the principle of the two-state solution.”
Since shortly after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and initiated the relocation of the US embassy in the Jewish state to the city, Abbas declared the Palestinians would no longer work with an American-dominated peace process and called for the establishment of a multilateral mechanism to replace it.
For more than a year, he has invited a number of countries around the world to take part in a multilateral mechanism for the peace process and repeatedly said he would not consider an American plan.
In December 2018, Abbas also said the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership was prepared to enter a peace process based on international law and United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions.
The last round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, which were sponsored by the US, collapsed in May 2014.
Trump had indicated that the plan would be published by early 2019, but the administration has apparently now delayed the release until after Israeli elections set for April.
There was no immediate response to the report from the Israeli government. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said in the past that he will look at the US’s seemingly forthcoming plan with an “open mind.”
The newly formed New Right Party of Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said they would refuse to sit in any government that accepted such a plan.
The White House dismissed the Channel 13 report as unfounded speculation. “As in the past, speculations regarding the peace plan are inaccurate. We have no further reaction,” it said in a statement quoted by channel.
In addition to the 85-90% of the West Bank coming under Palestinian sovereignty, the TV report said the Trump administration would also propose various land swaps — enabling Israel to extend its sovereignty into unspecified areas of the West Bank, in exchange for current Israeli territory.
Land swaps refer to territorial exchanges between Israel and the Palestinians, in which the two sides would agree to changes to the 1967 lines in a final agreement.
In practice, land swaps would allow Israel to keep some settlements and the Palestinians to take over parts of Israel. Palestinian officials have long expressed openness to minor one-for-one land swaps.
Regarding settlements, the TV report said major settlement blocs would be annexed to Israel. “Isolated” settlements — it named Yitzhar and Itamar as examples — would not be forcibly evacuated, but would also not be allowed to expand, and would thus be “dried out.” Outposts defined as illegal under Israeli law would be evacuated.
The report made no mention of the plan’s proposals regarding Palestinian refugees, nor of the intended fate of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.