White House officials: Erekat's report on plan is inaccurate

Top PA negotiator ‘urged Abbas to reject US peace deal as details emerged’

Proposal outline seen by Saeb Erekat would reportedly leave Israel with military control of W. Bank, place Palestinian capital in Jerusalem suburbs, rule out ‘right of return’

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat sign an application to join UN agencies, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
PA President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and chief peace negotiator Saeb Erekat sign an application to join UN agencies, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

A television report Friday detailed the US peace plan on which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was reportedly briefed earlier this month, and to which he apparently was responding in his recent enraged speech against Israel and the White House.

According to a Channel 10 news report, top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat presented Abbas with a 92-page document outlining the peace plan being formulated by the Trump administration, that would include a number of measures previously rejected by the Palestinians. Erekat is said to have urged Abbas to reject the plan outright.

The TV report seemed to correspond with a Hadashot news report earlier this week, which said an associate of the PA leader had traveled to Saudi Arabia to receive details of Trump’s peace plan

The plan reportedly calls for overall security responsibility for the West Bank to remain with Israel, with an Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley and in key West Bank vantage points. The Palestinian state would be demilitarized with a strong police force, but the Jewish state would maintain ultimate military control.

It would also see the establishment of a Palestinian capital in the suburbs of Jerusalem, with Israel maintaining freedom of worship for all religions at Jerusalem holy sites under its control.

Although it was not clear what “suburbs” would entail, a New York Times report last month said the proposal spoke of a Palestinian capital in Abu Dis, a West Bank town on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians seek East Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War, as the capital of their future state.

Abu Dis (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

According to the TV channel, Erekat told Abbas that under the US peace plan, Israel would retain 10 percent of the West Bank, although the final borders between an Israeli and Palestinian state would be worked out between the two sides. It did not say which specific areas of the West Bank Israel would keep, though Israel has long maintained that settlement blocs should be part of the country under any future peace deal.

Trump would announce his support for Israeli annexation of 10% of the territory within months. Israel was said to have requested 15%, but was refused.

A timetable would be set for negotiations, though no deadline would be given for an Israeli military withdrawal from the West Bank once a deal was reached: the pace of an Israeli pullout would be determined by the Palestinians’ ability to maintain security.

As part of the deal, the Palestinians would receive control of certain sections of Ben Gurion Airport and the ports of Ashdod and Haifa, although security control would remain with Israel. Furthermore, the sides would establish regular passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip — under Israeli control.

Regarding the so-called Palestinian right of return, the US proposal outlined by Erekat speaks of a “just solution” for Palestinian refugees that would see them settled in a Palestinian state, without the option to live in Israel.

Countries would recognize Israel as the “national home of the Jewish people,” while a Palestinian state would be the “national home of the Palestinian people,” Channel 10 reported.

Israeli security forces at the main entrance of the Qalandiya checkpoint, a key crossing point between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah, Wednesday, April 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

According to Channel 10, Erekat urged Abbas to reject the deal out of hand, saying it was an attempt by the US to “impose dictates” regarding its vision for a peace deal.

“We have no reason to wait for an American plan that in practice will keep the status quo in place and give American legitimacy to settlements while establishing an eternal autonomy” rather than a full-fledged state, the report quoted Erekat as writing in his briefing.

White House officials told Channel 10 that the details of the alleged US peace plan outlined by Erekat were incorrect. The officials said it was regrettable that certain people were trying to mislead and incite regarding the Trump plan, which they said had not even been finalized. Erekat’s comments were inaccurate, the officials said, according to the TV report, and the Palestinians should not base their reactions to the Trump plan on them. They said they continued to work on a plan that would serve both sides’ interests.

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