President Trump announced his “deal of the century” for peace in the Middle East today during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today. Trump claimed the plan could lead the US recognizing Palestine as a state, but only under Israel’s conditions.
“I want this deal to be a great deal for the Palestinians. It has to be. Today’s agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own. After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have,” Trump said.
The deal, which was reportedly written by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, would recognize Jewish settlements in the West Bank as Israeli land, while putting a four-year freeze on new settlement. It would also provide a “pathway to statehood” for Palestine under certain conditions set by Israel and the US, and it would be enable Israel’s police of maintaining what they refer to as “security control” of the region.
But the major problem with the proposal is that Palestinian representatives were not included in the talks. Even so, Trump said he believes they will eventually agree to it, noting that his administration has put them in a compromising situation.
“As you know, we cut off aid to Palestinians, and something I don’t like to do, but we did that. And we think that there’s a very good chance that they’re going to want this. I would say their initial—just as great negotiators—and they’re great negotiators. Their initial response—and I have no idea what they’re going to say—would be, ‘Oh, we don’t want anything.’ But in the meantime, they’ll be negotiating,” Trump said.
In response to the news of Trump’s proposal, Palestinians held protests in Gaza and the West Bank, where some were seen burning posters of Trump’s face with messages like, “Trump! Keep your deal. Palestine is not yours to sell.”
The prime minister of Palestine has already indicated that he will reject the deal, arguing the US is not a credible or genuine peace broker in this process. Here’s what he had to say.
“This deal, which is not based on international legality and international law, which also gives Israel all what it wants at the expense of the national rights of the Palestinian people, that embodied in an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital, and the right of refugees for return, does not make base for a quick solution,” said Mohammed Shtayyeh.
Meanwhile the timing of this announcement is notable. As the US Senate begins Day 7 of its impeachment trial for President Trump here in Washington, earlier today Netanyahu was formally indicted in three separate corruption cases, and he now faces charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu withdrew his request for immunity hours before his press conference with Trump.
Israel is set to hold its third national election in less than a year on March 2. Netanyahu’s top political rival, Benny Gantz, also met with Trump in the Oval Office on Monday and he, too, praised Trump’s plan.
But while Israel may be in favor of the deal, many see this as just another sign of the US enabling Israel’s behavior in the Middle East.
Under the Trump Administration, the US abandoned a two-state solution in February 2017, it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017, it cut off funding for Palestinians in August 2018, and it recognized Israeli settlements in the West Bank as legal in November 2019.
The Palestinian Authority has now called an emergency meeting that seeks to unite rivaling factions, and will include representatives from Hamas, as they vow to come together to reject Trump’s plan.