The US ambassador to Israel has told a closed-door meeting that Palestinians won’t achieve sovereignty in the near future if they accept Donald Trump’s peace plan, The Times of Israel reports citing sources who were present.
Ambassador David Friedman met with a small group of Jewish and Christian Evangelical leaders at the White House on Tuesday shortly after Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
In off-the-record remarks, he said that “it will still take a considerable amount of time for the Palestinians to build the institutions they need to have a state that’s fully functioning and that’s part of why they have this four-year timeline in the plan,” an unnamed American Jewish official was quoted as saying.
What is Trump's vision for a Palestinian state?
Under Trump’s proposal, Palestinians would be eventually granted a semi-autonomous state in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Tel Aviv would extend its law to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in the Jordan Valley, a fertile strip of land west of Jordan in Area C of the Palestinian Territories (one with full Israeli civil and security control) that hosts 65,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israelis, who are living in settlements considered illegal under international law. Israel would maintain the current status quo in the Palestinian lands it won't accede for at least four years; this timeline includes a freeze on further settlement activity. During that time, Palestinians would be able to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, and build the necessary institutions to “achieve the criteria for statehood”.
Palestinians would also have to demilitarise, recognise Israel as a Jewish state and submit themselves to Israeli security control in exchange for $50 billion in investment funds to Palestinian territories.
The plan offers significant changes to the contours of the future Palestinian state as it has been discussed for the past several decades, Under it, a Palestinians state could comprise some 70 percent of the West Bank, compared with 94-96 percent proposed by President Clinton in 2000. It also discards the long-time goal of the Palestinians to obtain a fully independent state. Palestinian leaders rejected the plan as being biased strongly toward Israel.
Will it be implemented though?
Despite the Palestinians’ criticism of the proposal, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that he wouldn’t wait for a peace deal and would ask his caretaker government on Sunday to endorse the plan to annex parts of West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Friedman also said on Tuesday that Israel “doesn’t have to wait” to claim sovereignty over those lands, but backtracked the following day saying that an Israeli-American committee has to be established first to discuss this. “That committee will work with all due deliberation to get to the right spot. But it is a process that does require some effort, some understanding, some calibration. We need to see the dimensions and see that it is not inconsistent with the maps,” he added.
Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, one of the plan’s main architects, said the US wouldn’t support the annexation until after the 2 March general election in Israel.