Trump plan calls for Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem

Trump plan calls for Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem
President Donald Trump with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he announced his peace plan in the White House. (AFP)
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Updated 29 January 2020

Trump plan calls for Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem

Trump plan calls for Palestinian state with capital in eastern Jerusalem
  • United States will recognize Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank
  • The absence of the Palestinians from Trump’s announcement is likely to fuel criticism that the plan tilts toward Israel

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump on Tuesday unveiled a long-awaited Middle East peace plan that broadly favored Israel, as expected, but also defied expectations by offering the Palestinian people a path to statehood.

Trump proposed a Palestinian state double the size of the existing Palestinian territories, with East Jerusalem as its capital and a US Embassy there; high-speed rail links between Palestinian areas and a tunnel linking the West Bank and Gaza; a four-year ban on Israeli settlement building on land earmarked for a Palestinian state; $50 billion in economic aid; and continued oversight by Jordan of Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

However, major Israeli settlements would remain, puncturing large parts of Palestine, Israel would take control of the whole Jordan Valley, and the refugee issue must be “settled outside Israel.”


Read the full report here: Middle East peace plan


Trump unveiled his plan at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, before an audience comprising mostly supporters of Israel but also including ambassadors from the UAE, Bahrain and Oman.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

He admitted the plan was good for Israel, but said it also had to benefit the Palestinians “otherwise it wouldn’t be fair.”

“I am saddened by the fate of the Palestinian people. They deserve a far better life,” he said.


Spotlight: Trump’s Middle East plan forges unexpected unity in Palestinian ranks


Trump said his plan would end “Palestinian dependency on charity and foreign aid. We will help the Palestinians to thrive on their own. The Palestinians will be able to seize the future … We are asking them to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence.”

Trump said Palestinians must adopt basic laws enshrining human rights, end corruption and disarm Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

He said Israel would work closely with Jordan to preserve the status quo of Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Trump said he had written to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “explaining the territory allocated for his new state.”

“It will become a wonderful Palestinian state,” he said. “President Abbas, I want you to know, if you chose the path to peace, America will be there … every step of the way. We will be there to help.”

However, Abbas immediately rejected the plan on Tuesday night. Visibly angry on Palestinian TV, he said: “No, a thousand times no.”

That the plan was based on a unified Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel is “enough for us to reject it,” he said.

Husam Zumlot, the Palestinian ambassador to the UK, told Arab News: “There are 13 million Palestinians in Palestine and the world, and the very fact that the American administration couldn’t find a single Palestinian to appear in that White House room says volumes about the one sidedness of the deal.”

In Lebanon, the Fatah movement called for a “day of rage” to resist the deal.

*Daoud Kuttab reported from Amman and Najia Houssari from Beirut


Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military
An Iraqi security force member checks a man near the damage site in the aftermath of a twin suicide bombing attack in a central market, in Baghdad, Iraq January 22, 2021. (REUTERS)
Updated 23 January 2021

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military

Baghdad suicide blasts expose gaps in Iraq’s strained military
  • PM’s security overhaul sees new federal police commander and chief of elite Falcons Unit

BAGHDAD: Twin suicide blasts in Baghdad claimed by the Daesh group have exposed gaps within Iraq’s security forces, weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic, rival armed groups and political tensions.

At least 32 people were killed and more than 100 wounded in the double-tap suicide attack that targeted a commercial district in Baghdad on Thursday.
Following the US-led invasion in 2003, Iraq’s security forces had to be effectively rebuilt from the ground up, relying heavily on training by foreign armies. The pandemic put an abrupt halt to that.
Living together at bases with little social distancing, Iraqi troops were some of the country’s first coronavirus victims.
In March 2020, the US-led coalition announced it was pulling out foreign trainers to stem the pandemic’s spread.
“The decreased training over the past year because of COVID-19 created a gap there,” a top US official in Baghdad told AFP last month.
It also meant Iraq’s security services had decreased access to the coalition’s communications surveillance — “an early warning system” that was crucial to nipping Daesh attacks in the bud, said Watling.
Many of those withdrawals became permanent.
The US-led coalition announced last year that Iraq’s army was capable of fighting Daesh remnants on its own and pulled out of eight bases across the country.

HIGHLIGHT

In March 2020, the US-led coalition announced it was pulling out foreign trainers to stem the pandemic’s spread. The decreased training over the past year because of COVID-19 created a gap there.

At the same time, citing the improving security situation, Baghdad’s authorities lifted the concrete blast walls and checkpoints that had congested the city for years.
Battle-hardened units were moved out of cities to chase down Daesh sleeper cells in rural areas, with less-experienced units taking over urban security.
Security analyst Alex Mello said those rotations combined with less-reliable intelligence may have eventually granted Daesh “a gap to exploit.”
Iraq’s security forces include army troops, militarized police units and the Hashd Al-Shaabi, a network of armed forces incorporated into the state after 2014.
Many were backed by Iran, which generated a mutual distrust with some forces trained by its arch enemy, the United States.
Tensions spiked following the US drone strike last year that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Hashd deputy chief, Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis. “The real strain has been political,” said Watling.
“During the fight against Daesh, there was a lot of informal information sharing between the Hashd, the coalition and others. That’s just not there anymore, which reduces situational awareness,” he said.
Navigating those tensions has been a major challenge for Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhemi, seen as US-friendly.
Following Thursday’s attack, Kadhemi announced an overhaul of Iraq’s security leadership, including a new federal police commander and chief of the elite Falcons Unit. Kadhemi is hoping those changes will not only plug holes that Thursday’s attackers exploited, but could also resolve the deeper issues of trust and coordination.