image Photo: GPO Kobi Gideon

U.S. unveiled Israel-Palestinian peace plan

U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled the political portion of his long-anticipated peace initiative, the so-called “deal of the century”, declaring it to be a vision for peace, prosperity and a brighter future for both Israelis and Palestinians.

During a special ceremony at the White House, in which President Trump addressed Jewish and Israeli leaders, Senior Administration officials and Ambassadors from several Arab states; the American leader highlighted the most crucial elements of his extensive proposal. He said “On Sunday, I delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu my vision for peace, prosperity and a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians. This vision for peace is fundamentally different from past proposals. In the past, even the most well-intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual frameworks. By contrast, our plan is 80 pages and is the most detailed proposal ever put forward by far.”

The 80-page document, which is being thoroughly studied by TV7, includes a comprehensive plan and practical trajectories to the numerous disputes at hand, based on the presiding reality on the ground.

Regarding one of the toughest hurdles to tackle – the fate Jerusalem, President Trump underscored that the ancient city “will remain Israel’s undivided – very important – undivided capital.”

The American leader noted, however, that the Palestinians would receive territory in Eastern Jerusalem, which could serve as their future capital. According to him, “This map will more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in Eastern Jerusalem where America will proudly open an embassy. No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes… This is a major statement. This is of major importance and, at the same time, our vision will deliver massive commercial investment of $50 billion into the new Palestinian state. You have many many countries that want to partake in this.”

It is important to explained that the document grants the Palestinians a section of East Jerusalem that is currently on the Arab-side of the Israeli security barrier, where the city’s municipality maintains its Administrative responsibilities, but the Israeli military is tasked with security related measures, due to the high rate of terror-related activities directed against Israelis emanating from that territory.

Furthermore, the American vision supports the maintenance of current arrangement with regard to Jerusalem’s ancient Temple Mount compound. According to Trump,  “Israel will work closely with a wonderful person, a wonderful man, the King of Jordan, to ensure that the status quo of the Temple Mount is preserved and strong measures are taken to ensure that all Muslims who wish to visit peacefully and pray at al-(Aqsa) mosque will be able to do so.” That is why, the Trump Administration calls for the preservation of the so-called status-quo, in which the Jordanian waqf will maintain its administrative role, and Israel will retain its security related responsibilities. Nevertheless, in contrast to the current situation – in which only Muslim worshipers are permitted to pray at the holly sight – the paper highlights that “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount (Haram al-Sharif in Arabic), in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the U.S.-peace initiative, arguing the deal “strikes the right balance [between Israel and the Palestinians] where other plans have failed.”

Moreover, it grants Israel unequivocal rights to assert Jerusalem’s sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank. “Too many plans tried to pressure Israel to withdraw from vital territory like the Jordan Valley. But you, Mr. President, you recognized that Israel must have sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the other, other strategic areas of Judea and Samaria, rather than pay easy lip service to Israel’s security and simply shut your eyes, hope for the best. You recognize that Israel must have sovereignty in places that enable Israel to defend itself, by itself.” Such considerations led the Israeli Prime Minster to pledge to “negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan.”

Accordingly, Israel is moving to implement the first stages of President Trump’s plan. Prime Minister Netanyahu intends on holding a cabinet vote on a motion to apply Israeli law to the Jordan Valley and all of the settlements in Judea and Samaria.

The military administration that currently governs the lives of roughly half a million Israelis will end, and all restrictions on construction inside the settlements will be lifted. Israel will not expand construction in other parts of the territories over the course of the next four years, and it will take measures to ensure that the Palestinians maintain the status quo as well.

A senior Israeli official also revealed to TV7 that following the cabinet’s ratification of the assertion of Israeli law over the land in question, that the issue would be put to vote in the Knesset as well.

It is important to note, however, that while the majority of Israeli lawmakers support the annexation of the disputed territories, there is no such acceptance regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state;  especially from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing partners who vehemently reject the concessions Israel is demanded to implement. According to Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, “Should Prime Minister Netanyahu make the brave, complete move of including all of the settlements in the Land of Israel within the State of Israel, we will give him full backing and support. Because the Land of Israel is more important than election. It should be clear: We will not allow the Israeli government to recognize a Palestinian state, under no circumstances. We will not allow Israel to hand over, not even a centimeter of land to the Arabs. This is what we are here for: To guard the Land of Israel as we have always done.”