Palestinians call on world to reject Trump peace plan

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. (REUTERS file photo)
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Updated 28 January 2020

Palestinians call on world to reject Trump peace plan

  • The US proposal may also seek to give Israel the green light to annex the Jordan Valley, a key territory that constitutes around 30 percent of the West Bank

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians on Monday urged world powers to reject Donald Trump’s peace plan, which they said President Mahmud Abbas had refused to discuss with his US counterpart despite several outreaches.
Trump is due to unveil his proposal for Middle East peace this week in Washington, where he is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz.
Palestinian leaders, who have not been invited to the White House, have already rejected the US initiative and insist that Trump’s administration has forfeited its role as an honest broker in the conflict due to what they say is the president’s pro-Israel bias.
“We call on the international community to not be partners in this (plan) because it contravenes international law,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh told journalists ahead of a weekly cabinet meeting.
The details of Trump’s initiative, which has been in the works since 2017, are not yet public.
But his administration has already recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which the Jewish state captured from Syria in the Six-Day War of 1967 and stopped referring to the West Bank as “occupied” territory.
It also no longer considers Israeli settlements there as inconsistent with international law and most analysts expect his proposal to reaffirm his administration’s positions.
Trump also broke with decades of international consensus that the fate of Jerusalem should be negotiated between the parties when he recognized the disputed city as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
He is releasing the plan as he faces impeachment hearings over abuse of office and while Netanyahu battles serious corruption charges during a neck-and-neck election against Gantz.
“This a plan to protect Trump from impeachment and protect Netanyahu from prison. It is not a Middle East peace plan,” Shtayyeh told a Cabinet meeting.
Previously released parts of the Trump initiative purport to offer the Palestinians substantial economic incentives.

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US President Donald Trump is due to unveil his proposal for Middle East peace this week in Washington, where he is scheduled to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz.

“The rights of the Palestinian people are not for sale,” Shtayyeh said. “This plan gives Israel sovereignty over Palestinian territory.”
Three Palestinian officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP on Monday that Trump had made several attempts to discuss the plan with Abbas in recent weeks, but the Palestinian president had rejected those outreaches.
“There will be no discussion with the Americans until they recognize the two-state solution,” one senior official said.
A spokesperson for the American Embassy in Jerusalem was not immediately available for comment.
Some have speculated that the US proposal could pull back from supporting the creation of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem, the common definition of the two-state solution.
The US proposal may also seek to give Israel the green light to annex the Jordan Valley, a key territory that constitutes around 30 percent of the West Bank.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri toured the Jordan Valley Monday, saying they were taking steps toward the move — a central election promise of right winger Netanyahu.
“As interior minister I’d like to tell you, we’ve started to prepare for an annexation — we are getting the paper-work ready,” Deri said in a statement.
In Gaza on Monday a few hundred Palestinians protested against the Trump plan, which Palestinians ironically call the “Deal of the Century.”
Further protests were expected on Wednesday, when the plan is expected to be public.


Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

Updated 25 May 2020

Resumed cargo flights: Thaw in Israel-Turkey ties?

  • Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile
  • Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara – Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians

ISTANBUL: Israeli airline El Al has resumed cargo flights twice weekly between Tel Aviv and Istanbul for the first time in 10 years — a sign that decade-long bilateral tensions might be easing.
A cargo flight landed in Istanbul on Sunday morning to pick up humanitarian aid and protective equipment destined for US medical teams fighting COVID-19.
Burhanettin Duran, head of the Ankara-based think tank SETA, wrote that Turkey’s regional empowerment is “obliging Israel to search for normalization steps with Ankara.”
Dr. Nimrod Goren, head of the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, said the cargo flight is a positive and visible development in bilateral relations that was probably approved by top government officials on both sides and required diplomatic efforts.
“However, the fact that this step takes place in parallel to a discussion about Israeli annexation in the West Bank, and to criticism of annexation by regional and international actors, might impact how it’s viewed in Turkey,” he told Arab News.
Goren said while the Israeli and Turkish governments continue to have significant policy differences, they should work to restore their relations to ambassadorial level, and to relaunch a strategic dialogue on regional developments of mutual interest.
“The forming of a new Israeli government, and the appointment of Gabi Ashkenazi as a new foreign minister, could be an opportunity to do so, and the cargo flight brings some positive momentum,” he added.
Turkey expelled Israel’s ambassador in May 2018 after the US moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Ankara’s involvement in Syria’s Idlib province against the Tehran-backed Assad regime has recently provided a common denominator for Turkey and Israel to reconcile, as it also serves the latter’s strategic interests in weakening the Iranian presence in Syria.
But Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians remains a major irritant in relations with Ankara. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Sunday reiterated his support for the Palestinians. 
In a video message on Twitter, he said the issue of Jerusalem “is a red line for all Muslims worldwide.”
He added that Israel’s “new occupation and annexation project … disrespects Palestine’s sovereignty and international law.”
Ryan Bohl, Middle East analyst at geopolitical-risk firm Stratfor, told Arab News: “Turkey is trying to create economic ties with Israel because … Erdogan is finding the political ground changed, caused in part by demographic changes as young Turks are less incensed by the Palestinian issue, and in part by a general weariness among Turks about putting too much skin in the game to solve the Palestinian question,” 
Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank on July 1 under the terms of a coalition government agreement. Ankara has strongly criticized the plan.
Israeli and Turkish officials are rumored to have held talks behind closed doors to reach a deal on maritime borders and exclusive economic zones in the eastern Mediterranean. 
Israel’s Foreign Ministry recently said it was “proud of our diplomatic relations with Turkey.”
But Goren said it is currently unlikely that Israel will advance a maritime demarcation deal with Turkey as it would shake several regional balances at the same time.
“It will put in jeopardy, and run in contrast to, the important alliances in the eastern Mediterranean that Israel has fostered in recent years with Greece, Cyprus and Egypt,” he added.