US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Palestinians who rejected President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan to come up with a “counter-offer” that could win Israeli support, as he headed to Britain on a five-nation tour.
Palestinian leaders were “free to come up with a counter offer if that’s what they think is appropriate,” Pompeo told reporters traveling with him. “I know the Israelis would be prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of the vision that the president laid out,” he said.
The Palestinians reacted angrily to Trump’s plan after it was announced Tuesday and many critics called it unrealistic. It reportedly included no Palestinian input and grants Israel much of what it has sought in decades of international diplomacy
Pompeo said the misgivings were coming from “the same critics who have failed for 70 years.”
In an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 news, Pompeo said the Palestinians had a clear path to statehood under the plan: “It grants the Palestinians a state that’s conditional on some really simple things, right, like stopping terrorism, acknowledging Israel as the Jewish state,” he said. “These are basic things for peace and prosperity in the region.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas firmly rejected the plan calling it the “the slap of the century.”
Abbas addressed the plan in a speech to senior Palestinian leaders, including representatives of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, at the PA presidential headquarters in Ramallah.
“We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘deal of the century,’” Abbas said, adding that the US plan “will not come to pass” and that “our people will send it to the dustbins of history.”
The plan does not include some key demands by Palestinians, such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem being part of their capital, the return of Palestinian refugees to live in Israel, and the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It also allows for broad Israeli annexation moves. It provides for a future Palestinian state subject to a series of conditions and limitations, with Israel retaining overall security control of the area.
In a separate Channel 13 interview, Pompeo cautioned the Palestinians that this may be their last chance for a state. This “may even be one of the last opportunities, and this should be clearly stated,” he said.
“This is the first time that there is a real proposal that includes a map that the Israelis have agreed to,” he added.
On Tuesday, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, one of the main architects of the plan, launched scathing attacks against the Palestinian leadership, which he said has lied to the Palestinian public for years by promising them “fairy tales” that cannot be achieved.
In media interviews Kushner gave to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeera network and US broadcaster CNN, he answered questions about the Trump administration’s peace plan, which was released earlier in the day, and which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to.
“It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen,” Kushner told Al Jazeera.
“The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,” he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.”
“The Palestinian people are on a terrible trajectory thanks to a lot of bad decisions by their leadership,” Kushner continued. “They have to stop holding out for myths that will never come, and fairytales that will never come.”
“The Palestinian Authority would rather go and complain as opposed to come to the table and negotiate, which, quite frankly, shows that they are not ready to have a state,” he said.
Breaking with past US administrations, the plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in part of the West Bank, a handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and some areas of southern Israel — on condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip disarm.
The plan also calls for allowing Israel to annex settlements, granting the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, as well as ongoing overall security control west of the Jordan River, and barring Palestinians from entering Israel as refugees.