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

  • 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.


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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

Palestinian couple to wed after groom’s 18-year Israeli jail term

Updated 39 min 44 sec ago

Palestinian couple to wed after groom’s 18-year Israeli jail term

  • I never lost hope that our love would triumph in the end ... My story is one of thousands like it of women who suffer from the oppression of the occupation: Palestinian bride Jinan Samara

WEST BANK: When Palestinian bride Jinan Samara dons her wedding dress on Friday to marry Abdel Karim Mukhader, it will mark a ceremony of mixed emotions that has been forcibly put on hold for 18 years.

For on Sunday, her groom was finally released from a prison sentence imposed under the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Mukhader, 49, was aged just 31 when he was jailed, but his love for Samara has only grown stronger during his long years behind bars.

And his new wife-to-be was waiting at the Jalamah Israeli military checkpoint to greet him with a bouquet of flowers and a fond embrace after his release from the Majiddo detention center in the occupied West Bank.

“I never lost hope that our love would triumph in the end. I did not hesitate for a moment in deciding to be patient and wait for him, and my family did not interfere in my decision, but encouraged and supported me,” Samara told Arab News.

“My story is one of thousands like it of women who suffer from the oppression of the occupation. In many homes, there is a wife or mother of a martyr or a prisoner,” she added.

Throughout her fiance’s imprisonment, Samara, an educational supervisor at Ministry of Education schools in the central West Bank city of Salfit, visited him whenever Israeli authorities allowed and helped him with university studies.

Thanks to her encouragement, Mukhader gained a master’s degree in Israeli studies, through Al-Quds University.

On his first night of freedom in 18 years, the couple stayed awake planning their wedding. “We want to use every minute to be together in our house after years of distancing and deprivation,” Samara said.

Mukhader said he would never forget his fiancee’s years of devotion and sacrifice. “If I offered her the world with what it contained, I would not fulfill her right. Palestinian women are always side by side with men paying the tax of occupation and injustice.

“But despite my joy in freedom and meeting Jinan and my loved ones, my heart is still with thousands of prisoners, my colleagues, who suffer oppression and injustice in the prisons of the occupation,” he added.

There are reportedly around 5,000 Palestinian detainees currently being held in Israeli jails, among them women and children, and Mukhader noted that conditions for inmates had worsened since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak.

“The embrace of freedom again and liberation from the occupation prisons represents a new birth certificate for any prisoner,” he said. “Prisons are like graves, and time inside is slow and heavy. With the passage of years, the prisoner loses the ability to perceive the value of minutes and hours.”

He said his worst moment in jail was when he received news of his mother’s death. “I felt that the prison bars were being applied roughly to my heart.”

Once married, Mukhader plans to complete his higher studies and obtain a doctorate in political economy, before fighting for the freedom of former prison colleagues.