Under the terms of the soon-to-be released Trump administration peace plan, Israel would retain overall security control of the entire West Bank even if a Palestinian state is established in parts of it, Israeli TV reports said Friday night.
Adding fresh ostensible details regarding the content of the plan, Channel 13 said it ultimately provides for a demilitarized Palestinian state in some 80 percent of the West Bank, under overall Israeli control. 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.
The Channel 13 report said the US expects the Palestinians to reject the plan, but would encourage them to think again, and would say that the 80% of West Bank territory intended for their state would be kept for them for several years.
The various Israeli reports on the plan to date have made no mention of the intended fate of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
US President Donald Trump, who said Thursday that he has invited Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and rival Benny Gantz to the White House next Tuesday to discuss the plan, and that he would likely release it before that meeting, has dismissed reports on its ostensible content as “purely speculative.”
Israeli reports have described the deal as the “most pro-Israel plan ever presented” by a US administration.
In the Clinton era, prime minister Ehud Barak offered to relinquish over 90% of the West Bank to the Palestinians; in 2008, prime minister Ehud Olmert offered what amounted to 100% of the West Bank with one-for-one land swaps, a capital in East Jerusalem, and the Old City under international control.
Based on what it said were briefings given by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to various Israeli politicians in recent days, the Channel 13 report also said the Jordan Valley will be defined in the plan as Israel’s eastern security border. If Israel wants to annex that area, however, it would have to give the Palestinians territory in return in the Negev close to the Gaza Strip.
Elaborating on a Channel 12 report Thursday, the Channel 13 item said Israel would annex all 100-plus settlements, but that minor settlements among them would not expand further; building there would be frozen. Dozens of illegal outposts would be evacuated.
Again echoing Thursday’s report, Channel 13 said Israel would be sovereign in Jerusalem — though it added that several Arab neighborhoods formally inside Jerusalem that are located on the West Bank side of the security barrier would go to the Palestinians.
Israel would be sovereign at the Temple Mount and other Old City holy sites, but the Palestinians would have a role in their administration, it said.
Quoting sources in Gantz’s Blue and White party, Channel 13 reported that Israel would not be allowed to start annexing West Bank settlements and other areas unless it accepted the full plan.
Gantz, who initially was inclined to accept Trump’s invitation to the White House, is now leaning against going, Friday night TV reports said, regarding the timing of the plan’s release as a “trap,” with the trip likely to be utilized to boost Netanyahu and undermine him ahead of the March 2 elections. Gantz is to make a statement on the issue on Saturday evening.
The Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, and is reportedly threatening to cancel its security coordination with Israel in the West Bank if it moves ahead. The PA has had no substantive dealings with the US administration since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The US is seeking to encourage allied Arab foreign ministers to attend Tuesday’s White House meeting, thus far to no avail, Channel 12 said.
In its report on the plan Thursday, Channel 12 said it provides for full Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, for Israel to annex all 100-plus West Bank settlements, and for no significant “return” to Israel of Palestinian refugees. It provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state, but on condition that the Hamas terror group gives up its weapons and the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state with Jerusalem as its capital.
It also said if Israel accepts the plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel would have US support to begin annexing settlements unilaterally — a detail contradicted in Friday’s Channel 13 report.