17:10 GMT19 February 2020
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    US President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled his 'Deal of the Century', a plan for settling the long-lasting conflict between the Palestine Authority and Israel. The agreement - crafted almost exclusively by Tel Aviv and Washington - was immediately rejected by Palestinian officials.

    The text of the plan - published late on Tuesday by the White House - has already been denounced by a number of Arab states and politicians as risky, because the document, if implemented, could compromise not only regional security, but also the security of the United States, as Trump's touted "deal of the century" would likely unleash violent blow-back due to the imbalance on offer to the warring sides.

    The plan includes a sizable $50-billion economic stimulus package of infrastructure investment with a declared goal of more than doubling the Palestinian gross domestic product over the next decade, the creating of over a million jobs, and a halving of the poverty rate, while eliminating dependence on charity and foreign aid.

    Trump's initiative nonetheless heavily tilts toward Tel Aviv's positions on every pressing issue of Middle East peacemaking, including permanent border placement, the status of Jerusalem, the legality of Jewish settlements, the status of Arab refugees, and multiple security arrangements.

    'Realistic Two-State Solution'

    The Trump peace plan is dubbed 'Peace to Prosperity. A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People' and sets out a two-state solution with a Palestinian state whose capital is East Jerusalem, and the United States providing legitimacy for Israeli settlements in the West Bank, an area seized by Tel Aviv during the 1967 Six-Day War.

    According to the so-called two-state solution, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict can be settled by the creation of an independent State of Palestine, alongside the State of Israel. 

    The text of the "deal of the century" notes that the two-state solution "seems so far from reality. Gaza and the West Bank are politically divided", and claims that blame for this "failed" concept lies with the Palestinian Authority, whose "bad governance" makes it impossible for Palestinians to thrive.

    As an argument for its acceptance, the text of the document purports to "provide both self-determination and significant economic opportunity for Palestinians".

    "We developed a detailed economic vision for what the future for the Palestinians could be if there were peace. There has been a false notion that the lack of opportunity for the Palestinian people is Israel’s sole responsibility. Solving the final status issues, in the manner described in this Vision, would create the necessary conditions for investment to start flowing into the region. We estimate that combining this political solution with the economic vision for investments and government reforms that we have laid out will lead to historic economic growth", the document reads.

    Issue of Jerusalem

    Jerusalem would become an undivided city and be accepted by Washington as the capital of Israel, according to the plan, and a suburban region outside the city and outside of Israeli security barriers would become the capital of Palestine.

    “Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city”, the plan offers. “The sovereign capital of the State of Palestine should be in the section of East Jerusalem located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and could be named Al Quds or another name as determined by the State of Palestine".

    The "deal of the century" envisages leaving most of Tel Aviv's annexed areas of east Jerusalem, including the Old City and various holy sites, under Israeli control, while permitting Palestinians to establish a capital on the outskirts of the city, outside of Israel's walled-in security separation region.

    The current understandings governing the Muslim holy site known as the Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the sacred Jewish Temple Mount would remain in place.

    Trump in 2017 recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, prompting fierce backlash in the Arab world. In 2018, the US president ordered the relocation of the US embassy, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, drawing additional ire from the Palestine Authority, prompting the latter's categorical rejection of Washington’s unilateral mediation efforts with Israel.

    'Conceptual' Borders

    The Trump "Vision" boasts a section of a "conceptual map" describing possible borders for the Palestine Authority and Israel.

    The plan requires Israel to make "significant territorial compromises'' while the Palestinian state would receive territory "reasonably comparable in size to the territory of the West Bank and Gaza pre-1967", in reference to Israel's seizure of those territories, along with east Jerusalem, in a region-wide war in 1967.

    The plan provides for land swaps, but the "conceptual map'' shows a gerrymandered Palestinian territory, with Israeli and Palestinian enclaves linked to respective states by what the plan calls "pragmatic transportation solutions'', including bridges, tunnels and roads.

    The Jordan Valley, which accounts for about a fourth of the West Bank, "will be under Israeli sovereignty'', according to the plan.

    Palestinians are also offered access to the Israeli seaports of Haifa and Ashdod, as well as what are described as dedicated industrial, agricultural, tourist and free-trade zones, an option of compensatory land swaps and a high-speed rail connection between the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Settlements

    The deal does not, however, grant statehood to Palestinians, who would first be expected to implement a range of accepted political, social and economic reforms.

    Under the text of the document, the Palestinians are given four years to study, accept and implement the Trump plan, which offers them roughly twice more land than they already control, but much less than the 100 percent of the West Bank that they want to take back.

    Until the four years have passed, additional territories will remain "open and undeveloped".

    In addition, the plan immediately allows Israel to annex virtually all of its illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

    The Trump "deal of the century" would also freeze settlement construction in areas earmarked for a future Palestinian state during the period of negotiations, but those areas are already largely off-limits to settlement activity.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who attended the White House ceremony on Tuesday and is returning home as early as next Sunday, is expected to bring a proposal to annex Jordan valley, the settlements and the northern Dead Sea for cabinet approval, media reported.

    Security

    Under the "deal of the century", Tel Aviv "will maintain overriding security responsibility" for the state of Palestine, which will be "fully demilitarized''.

    The Palestinians will be permitted an internal security force but Tel Aviv will control the borders and monitor all crossings.

    The plan also proposes the establishment of a special "Crossings Board'' made up of three Palestinians, three Israelis and a US representative to oversee the crossings and resolve disputes.

    Israel will implement its obligations under the plan if the Gaza Strip is transferred back to the full control of the Palestinian Authority or another entity acceptable to Israel.

    Under the text of the Trump plan, Hamas and all other militant groups in Gaza must disarm, and the territory must be fully demilitarized.

    Maps released by the White House depict prospective Palestine territory as a patchwork of enclaves encircled by Israel, cut off from neighboring Jordan and linked with roads and tunnels to ensure territorial continuity.

    A Palestinian state, according to the Trump plan, will be "fully demilitarized" and permitted only to have security forces capable of maintaining internal safety and preventing terror attacks against Israel, Jordan and Egypt.

    Israel will maintain an "overriding security responsibility", from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, though it would be called upon to reduce unnecessary frictions with the Palestinians.

    Refugees

    The plan allows Israel to keep all its seized West Bank settlements, home to hundreds of thousands of Jews, and annex the Jordan Valley, effectively denying any future Palestinian state access to the outer world.

    The Trump plan denies Palestinian refugees and their descendants any right to return to their seized homes and lands abandoned in what is now Israel.

    They are offered instead an absorption into a future State of Palestine, integration in their current host countries or resettlement to Organization of Islamic Cooperation member states, subject to those countries’ agreement.

    The peace plan emphasizes "there shall be no right of return by, or absorption of, any Palestinian refugee into the state of Israel'', stressing that refugees can live in the state of Palestine, become citizens of the countries where they live or be absorbed by other countries.

    The document proposes, however, that the United States could provide ''some compensation" to refugees.

    Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of what is now Israel during the 1948 conflict surrounding the creation of the Jewish nation state. Those refugees and their descendants now number some 5 million and are scattered across the region.

    The Palestinians believe in their "right of return'' to their former homeland, a move Israel has always rejected.

    The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has faced a severe funding crisis since 2018, after the United States under the Trump administration, previously its largest single donor, said it would halt annual contributions of around $360 million.

    Trump, while unveiling his Middle East peace plan earlier in the day, declared his "Vision" a "win-win" opportunity for both Israel and the Palestinians.

    "My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel's security", Trump said.

    Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, slammed the Trump offer and said it would never materialize, vowing to throw it in the "garbage can of history".

    "Jerusalem is not for sale, the 'deal of the century' will not go through, and our people will send it to the garbage can of in history [...] We will not bow and we will not surrender [...] We are united in the face of all the extermination plans that our people will reject. We say 'no, no, no,' to the deal of the century", Abbas asserted.

    Related:

    Israel Opposition Leader Calls Trump Mideast Peace Plan ‘Historic Milestone’
    Hamas Officials May Attend Palestinian Leadership Meeting to Oppose Trump Peace Plan – Report
    Mideast Peace Plan: Trump Unveils His 'Deal of the Century'
    Live Updates: Trump Unveils Middle East Peace Plan During Joint Statement With Netanyahu - Video
    Trump Peace Plan Risks Violence, Massive Destabilization in Middle East - US Senator
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    Palestine, Israel, text, Deal of the century, peace plan, Trump administration
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