WASHINGTON/AMMAN: Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan “makes a lot of sense for everybody,” the US president said on the eve of its historic unveiling today in Washington.
Trump conceded that his plan was unlikely to be welcomed by the Palestinians, but he believed they would come round.
“They probably won’t want it initially,” he said. “But I think in the end they will ... it’s very good for them. In fact it’s overly good to them. So we'll see what happens. Without them, we don’t do the deal and that’s OK.”
“But we think there’s a very good chance that they’re going to want this."
An agreement between Israel and the Palestinians was crucial to achieve overall peace in the Middle East, Trump said.
“They say it’s probably the most difficult deal anywhere and of any kind to make,” he said. “When I was back in the business world, when a deal was tough, people would jokingly refer to it as ‘tougher than Israel and the Palestinians getting together.’ This is what I heard all my life. We have something that makes a lot of sense for everybody.”
Trump spoke after talks in the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and before a meeting with Israeli opposition leader Benny Gantz. The two men face off in a parliamentary election in March, and Netanyahu is also seeking immunity from prosecution for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.
The Palestinians say Trump’s plan will favor Israel, and undermine their right to statehood.
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestine Liberation Organization reserved the right to withdraw from the Oslo Accords if Trump went ahead with his plan, which would “turn Israel’s temporary occupation into a permanent occupation.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the plan “doesn't constitute a basis for resolving the conflict,” violates international law and “comes from a party that has lost its credibility to be an honest broker.”
Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO executive committee, told Arab News that Trump’s optimism was “delusional,” and “shows a warped understanding of reality.”
She said the plan was “clearly as good for the Palestinians as the theft of Jerusalem, the assault on refugee rights and the defunding of Palestinian infrastructure.”