Trump plan offers Palestinians only ‘conditional sovereignty’ – report

Trump plan offers Palestinians only ‘conditional sovereignty’ – report

Washington Post says statehood will fall short of Palestinian expectations; NYT: Israeli sovereignty over much of Jordan Valley; Al-Arabiya: Temple Mount status quo maintained

US President Donald Trump walks to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured), Jan. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)
US President Donald Trump walks to a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (not pictured), Jan. 27, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

The Trump administration’s long-awaited peace plan will propose a redrawn border between Israel and the West Bank that would incorporate large settlements into Israel, sources told The Washington Post on Monday.

The report did not name any of the settlements or blocs that could fall under this category.

According to two unnamed people familiar with the plan, which President Donald Trump said will be unveiled on Tuesday, the proposal will also include “some form” of Israeli security control over the West Bank.

The plan will initially offer Palestinians limited autonomy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, the newspaper reported, without giving further details on that aspect.

Palestinians walk towards the Qalandia checkpoint between the West Bank city of Ramallah and Jerusalem to attend the first Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, Friday, May 10, 2019.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

The Palestinian leadership would then enter a three-year timeline in which it would be expected to renounce violence and take other steps on a path to negotiating further control.

“They have within their grasp a state,” if they meet those security and political criteria, once source told the newspaper, while acknowledging that this eventual “conditional sovereignty” would fall far short of the Palestinians’ longstanding demand — backed by the international community — for full independence.

A spokesperson for the White House refused to comment to the newspaper on the report.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported that the plan proposes that Israel have sovereignty over much of the Jordan Valley.

The Jordan Valley is a key strategic region running north-south along the Jordanian border that has long been seen by Israeli defense planners and political leaders as the country’s preferred eastern frontier.

An unnamed person familiar with the plan told the Times that the deal would condition an increase in Palestinian autonomy on demilitarization as well as recognition of Israeli as a Jewish state.

The Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya outlet, meanwhile, reported that the plan will include the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. No further details of the two-state solution proposed by the plan were given in that report.

The proposal will also maintain the status quo at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, a source close to the team drawing up the plan told the network.

Israeli security forces walk past the Dome of the Rock shrine, as they arrive at the Temple Mount compound in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 11, 2019, after clashes broke out during the overlapping Jewish and Muslim holidays of Eid al-Adha and Tisha B’Av. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Under that status quo, Jordan is custodian of the flashpoint site as part of its 1994 peace treaty with Israel. As part of an arrangement in place since the 1967 Six Day War, when Israel captured the Old City and East Jerusalem from Jordan, non-Muslims are barred from praying at the Temple Mount, which is the holiest site in Judaism and third holiest in Islam.

Tuesday’s reports appeared to confirm that Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” is the most pro-Israel peace proposal ever published by an American administration. It has also been reported to include an endorsement of Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem and significant parts of the West Bank. Reliable information about the plan’s details remain elusive, however, with sources in Jerusalem saying it has not been finalized.

According to various reports, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will be hosted at the White House Tuesday as the plan is unveiled, hopes to get a green light from the president for an Israeli annexation of either the Jordan Valley or the Jerusalem suburb Ma’ale Adumim. Channel 12 said on Monday that the administration’s plan would also let Israel retain two holy sites deep inside in the West Bank — the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in the southern West Bank and Joseph’s Tomb on the outskirts of Nablus in the northern West Bank.

US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC, January 27, 2020. (SAUL LOEB / AFP)

According to unconfirmed Israeli media reports apparently based on Israeli sources, the plan would curb Israeli settlement growth, initially hand Israelis and Palestinians about one-third of the West Bank each, promise recognition of a provisional Palestinian state in Palestinian-held areas, and set in place a four-year “preparation period” during which Palestinians would — so Washington hopes — come around to the plan and possibly negotiate control of the remainder of the territory.

An Army Radio report Monday said Palestinian statehood would also depend on reconciliation between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah faction and the Hamas terror group that rules Gaza. Earlier reports have said the plan calls for Hamas to be disarmed and Gaza demilitarized.

Abbas has vowed to reject any American peace plan and has said the Palestinians have recently cut off all contacts with the US, other than with American security officials as a part of their commitment “to fight terrorism.”

PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday urged international powers to boycott Trump’s plan.

Trump said Monday, with Netanyahu by his side in the White House, that without the Palestinians “we don’t do the deal.”

Trump predicted that the Palestinians will “ultimately” come round to giving their support. “They probably won’t want it initially. I think in the end they will,” he said. “I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them. So we’ll see what happens. Now without them, we don’t do the deal. And that’s okay.”

Trump then met with Blue and White leader Benny Gantz — who has been battling Netanyahu for the premiership for over a year amid an unprecedented string of three election campaigns in Israel — to discuss the administration’s forthcoming peace proposal. Gantz called the plan historic, and promised to work to implement it — along with other regional players, after Israel’s March 2 elections.

US President Donald Trump meets with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz in the White House in Washington on January 27, 2020. (Elad Malka)

According to a member of Gantz’s entourage, the prime ministerial hopeful also asked Trump not to move to implement the so-called “Deal of the Century” before the elections.

Gantz went on to say that he and Trump discussed the “importance of dialogue with the Palestinians, the neighboring countries and the king of Jordan.”

Channel 13 news reported Monday that Arab Gulf States are likely to voice general support for Washington’s Middle East peace proposal, but only if it does not allow Israel to immediately annex parts of the West Bank. The report cited a senior Gulf state official.

Netanyahu is scheduled to meet Trump again at the White House on Tuesday for what is widely expected to be unveiling of the administration’s plan at 12 p.m. (EST). The two leaders will deliver joint remarks for 35 minutes.

A Palestinian man rides a donkey on a main road in the Jordan Valley, near Tubus, in the West Bank, September 11, 2019. (Ariel Schalit/AP)

The latest news reports about the plan follow a spate of sometimes contradictory reports in Hebrew media purporting to detail the content of the plan. On Thursday,  Channel 12 TV reported that the plan provides for full Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, for Israel to annex all West Bank settlements, and for no significant “return” to Israel for the descendants of Palestinian refugees.

And on Friday, Channel 13 said Israel would retain overall security control of the entire West Bank under the plan, even if some form of Palestinian self-rule is established in parts of it.

Channel 13 said the plan ultimately provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state in some 80 percent of the West Bank. That state would not be empowered to maintain an army and sign military treaties, and Israel would control its borders, further reports on Friday said.

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