President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan Tuesday, calling for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of east Jerusalem. He declared it a "win-win" opportunity for both Israel and the Palestinians. The plan ends speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing a proposal without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a "two-state resolution" to the conflict. Trump, releasing the plan before a pro-Israel audience at the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side, acknowledged that he has done a lot for Israel, but he said he also wanted the deal to be a "great deal for the Palestinians" and characterized it as a "historic opportunity" for Palestinians to achieve an independent state of their own. Details from the AP:
- The plan more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also recognizes Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object. The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Trump of being biased in favor of Israel.
- The plan does call for a four-year freeze in new Israeli settlement construction, during which time details of a comprehensive agreement would be negotiated. It was not immediately clear if the freeze could be extended if a final deal is not concluded in the four years.
- The 50-page political outline goes further in concessions to the Palestinians than many analysts had believed was likely. However, it would require them to accept conditions they have been previously unwilling to consider, such as accepting West Bank settlements. It builds on a 30-page economic plan for the West Bank and Gaza that was unveiled last June and which the Palestinians have also rejected.
- Under the terms of the “peace vision" that Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has been working on for nearly three years, the future Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a combination of above-ground roads and tunnels, according to the officials.
- Both Netanyahu and his main political challenger in March elections, Benny Gantz, had signed off on the plan.
- Security responsibility for the Jordan Valley would remain in Israel's hands for the foreseeable future but could be scaled back as the nascent Palestinian state builds its capacity, under the terms of the plan, which says that statehood will be contingent on the Palestinians meeting international governance criteria.
- US officials, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of the plan's release, said they expected negative responses from the Palestinians, as well as Turkey and Iran, but were hopeful that Jordan and Egypt, the only two Arab nations to have peace treaties with Israel, would not reject it outright. The officials said they expected Gulf Arab states like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and others to cautiously welcome the plan.
- The reaction of Jordan, which would retain its responsibilities over Jerusalem's al-Aqsa Mosque under the plan, will be particularly significant, according to the officials, who said Kushner and others were reaching out to Arab leaders ahead of the rollout.
(Read more President Trump