Thousands of Palestinian Arabs rallied in multiple cities across the West Bank in a show of support for their President Mahmoud Abbas, as he delivered ‘a message of rejection’ over the Trump Peace Plan at a special session of the United Nations Security Council in New York on Tuesday (11 February).
Although the main Palestinian events remained relatively peaceful, violent riots by dozens of youth erupted in several flashpoint areas.
Many protestors in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, insisted that no one, including U.S. President Donald Trump, could dictate the future borders of their aspired state. Resident Abu Mohammed told Reuters that, “Palestinians are the ones who get to decide where are their borders and their lands, this is our land, and this is our right. Trump – or anyone other than Trump – doesn’t have the right to give away one inch of our land for the (Israeli) ‘Occupation.’ What Trump is doing is against the international law.” Mohammed al-Habi said, “There are no words left to say what is seen happening on the ground here, the Deal of the Century-topic should not even be discussed after today,” stressing that “The people’s attendance here is strong evidence that Palestinians reject the Deal of the Century.”
Abbas made little effort to contain his anger over the American initiative during his address to the UNSC, where he insisted it effectively serves as a White House gift to Israel which “would not bring peace or stability to the region.” He asserted that the exclusion of East Jerusalem from Palestinian sovereignty was sufficient cause to reject the plan. While waving a copy of a map the U.S. plan envisions as a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, he ridiculed lands carved out for a future Palestinian state as overly-fragmented and resembling “Swiss cheese.” This lack of Palestinian “control on our land, air and sea,” he added, “would put an end to the question of Palestinian refugees,” and “end all basis for a peace plan.”
After insisting Washington’s proposal, officially entitled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” is tantamount to rejection of all “agreements and obligations to establish two states along the pre-1967 lines,” Abbas reiterated that the Palestinians will not only denounce the deal but also “confront its application on the ground.” He then rhetorically asked the 15-state UNSC, “Who among you will accept a similar state and similar conditions?”
Palestinian efforts to garner wider international support, primarily in Europe, with the intended submission of a condemnatory resolution against the U.S. and its plan for a Security Council vote was a blatant failure. A Palestinian official speaking on condition of anonymity said that the Ramallah delegation could not garner backing from the necessary majority to pass the draft, even after it had been “toned-down” in a version from which “an explicit condemnation” of the proposal had been removed. ‘Palestinian leaders decided to avoid humiliation’ by canceling the initiative, said the source, after only five member states appeared to support the motion.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to Abbas’ appearance before the UNSC during an election rally for his Likud faction in the northern city of Bat Yam. Using the Palestinian leader’s honorific name, Netanyahu stated, “So, I want to tell Abu Mazen that this is not Swiss cheese.” He then proclaimed the Trump initiatives as “the best plan” for the Middle East, Israel and the Palestinians” because “it recognizes reality and the rights of the people of Israel,” both of which he accused Abbas and the Palestinians of “constantly refuse to recognize.”