US President Donald Trump unveiled his long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East on Tuesday, in a joint press conference at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The room was filled with familiar faces — Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, Jason Greenblatt, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Sara Netanyahu, and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer — and dozens of Israel’s supporters, who clapped and cheered throughout the announcement.
Trump described the deal as a “win-win” situation for both Israelis and Palestinians, boasting that his plan was the “most detailed ever put forward by far.”
According to Trump, Jerusalem would “remain Israel’s undivided capital” and the US will recognize Israeli sovereignty “over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the state of Israel.”
Trump’s vision, according to the “conceptual map” released on Tuesday, would see Israel’s annexation of the Jordan Valley, the areas around the Dead Sea that are currently in the West Bank, and the ‘E1’ area between Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Additionally, the map shows smaller portions of current West Bank territory becoming a part of Israel — seemingly representing the annexation of the hundreds of illegal settlements on West Bank land.
After the press conference, reports surfaced saying that Netanyahu would be announcing Israel’s full annexation of the settlements in the West Bank on Sunday, and that Ambassador Friedman expressed that Israel was “free to annex settlements in the West Bank at any time”
— Yosef Yisrael (@yosefyisrael25) January 28, 2020
While Trump boasted that his plan would promise a contiguous Palestinian state, doubled in size from its current form, the “conceptual map” released by his administration shows a fragmented and dwindling territory, connected by a series of proposed bridges and tunnels.
The plan also proposes a bridge or tunnel connecting what’s left of the West Bank with the Gaza Strip.
Any redrawing of borders, Trump emphasized, must first and foremost “meet the security requirements of the State of Israel.”
He also called for the disarmament of Palestinian political factions like Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and “firm rejection of terrorism” as a requirement for Palestinian statehood.
“We are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence,” Trump said.
“This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights, protecting against political and financial corruption…ending incitement of hatred against Israel, and ending financial compensation to terrorists,” he said, referring to pensions paid by the Palestinian Authority to the families of prisoners and martyrs.
In his speech, Netanyahu demanded that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish State, and that Israel will maintain military control of the entire Jordan Valley to establish a permanent eastern border in the area.
Trump repeatedly emphasized the priority of Israel’s security, saying “the proposed transition to a two-state solution will provide no incremental security risk to the state of Israel.”
“We will not allow a return to the days of bloodshed, bus bombings, and terror,” eh said. “We will never ask israel to compromise its security.”
According to Trump, the Palestinians have four years to debate and negotiate with Israel over the details of the plan, during which the “territory allocated to this new [Palestinian] state will remain open and undeveloped,” seemingly referring to a settlement freeze in the West Bank.
“President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries, we will be there to help you in so many different ways. We will be there to help,” Trump said, addressing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who has boycotted diplomatic relations with the US adminsitration since 2017.
Trump boasted the support of dozens of unnamed world leaders, who he described as anxious to implement his plan. He specifically thanked the ambassadors of Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain for being in attendance.
In his speech, Netanyahu called Trump’s plan “exceptional,” and praised January 28, 2020 as a “historic day,” comparing it to the US recognition of Israel as a state in May 1948.
“You became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage,” Netanyahu said to a round of applause, adding that since its founding, Israel has “yearned for peace” with its neighbors.
Throughout his speech, Trump repeatedly praised Israel for “wanting peace badly,” and praised Netanyahu for “willing to endorse the plan as the basis for direct negotiations.”
He boasted about everything he has done for Israel, listing off the recognition of Jerusalem as its capital, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem, and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.
“It is only reasonable I have to do a lot for Palestinians or else it wouldn’t be fair,” Trump said, and in a bizarre moment, told the audience “don’t clap for that, but it’s true.”
A significant portion of his speech focused on his economic plan for the Palestinians, introduced in Bahrain last year, that promises 50 billion dollars in investments.
“Over the next 10 years, 1 million great new Palestinian jobs will be created,” he said, adding that the poverty rate will be cut in half, and the Palestinian GDP will “double and triple.”
“Our vision will end the cycle of Palestinian dependency on charity and financial aid. They will do fine by themselves. They are a very capable people,” he said.
“I want this deal to be a great deal for Palestinians. It is a historic opportunity for Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their own,” he said, adding “this could be the last opportunity they ever have.”