UNITED NATIONS — The Trump administration’s long-awaited plan peace for the Middle East is really a cover for Israel’s annexation of West Bank settlements, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Riyad Mansour said Tuesday.
A peace deal devised by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is expected to be released in June, after Ramadan, following repeated United States moves that appear to embolden Israel and hurt the Palestinians.
“If what we read is what is to be expected from this plan, then it seems that the objective of it is not a solution to the conflict, but to give pretext to the Israeli government to annex other portions” of the West Bank, Mansour told a small group of reporters at UN headquarters.
“Because those who are interested in peace, they will be more balanced, more reasonable. They don’t try to reinvent the wheel, they build on what exists and modify it … But to start from scratch, you throw away everything we have worked on for 25 years.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed in the waning days of a re-election campaign he won on April 9 to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank — a move that likely rallied his right wing base in a tight race.
An Israeli land grab of Jewish settlements there would doubtless trigger condemnation from the Palestinians, who want to create their own state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory Israel captured in 1967.
Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, have spent the past two years developing a proposal in the hopes of kick-starting dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.
But the Palestinians have refused to talk to US negotiators since Trump decided to shift the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and slash funding for Palestinian refugees.
Mansour said there was “no magic bullet” for Palestinian officials to use on the Trump administration.
“Some in the administration, they think: ‘Yes, what will help peace is break the legs of the Palestinians, break one arm and five teeth, and when they are on the ground they will come crawling to you for anything you offer them’,” Mansour said.
“Those who think that way don’t know the Palestinians.”
Mansour described strong support for the creation of a Palestinian state among Europeans, Russians and at the United Nations, that would see a one-sided Trump administration peace plan rejected internationally.
Any Israeli land grabs in the West Bank would yield a toxic race-based state akin to apartheid South Africa, in which Palestinians would be second-class citizens within Israel’s borders, said Mansour.
If Israel decided “to to force a one-state reality, the Palestinian people will accelerate their reproduction machines and increase the number of Palestinians to face apartheid, because there is no name for it but apartheid,” Mansour said.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the head of the world body, secretary-general Antonio Guterres, had not seen a draft of the US peace plan, but said any deal should grant Palestinians their own country.
“The secretary general has met Mr Kushner and Mr Greenblatt on occasion, but as far as I know, no plan has been shared with the secretary general and it is a plan that is coming out of the United States, not out of the United Nations,” Dujarric said.
Kushner, who was a real estate developer before joining his father-in-law in the White House, has said the proposal is not an effort to impose US will on the region. He has not said whether it calls for a two-state solution, a goal of previous peace efforts.
His plan, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the past 18 months, has two major components. It will address core political grievances, such as the status of Jerusalem, while seeking to boost the flailing Palestinian economy.
Arab officials and analysts say the plan is likely to be biased towards Israel since the Trump administration has taken a tough line toward Palestinians, cutting off aid and ordering the PLO’s office in Washington shut.