(February 11, 2019 / JNS) The United States is expected to recognize a Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem as part of its highly anticipated peace plan to solve the 70-year-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an informed source hearing from top Trump administration officials told JNS.
The so-called “deal of the century,” which is expected to be released after Israel’s elections on April 9, will include U.S. recognition of Palestine with contingencies, according to the source, who was not provided the specifics behind the conditions.
The capital of the Palestinian state will consist of remote parts of eastern Jerusalem, said the source. The Palestinians have claimed that sector of the city as the capital of a future state, a position supported by most countries. But Israel considers the entire city, including its eastern part, to be the Jewish state’s undivided capital.
The Trump administration officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, in addition to relocating the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv the following May. However, the move by Trump did not recognize any boundaries of Jerusalem, which the president said would be resolved through negotiations. It also maintained the status quo for the holy sites in the city.
Additionally, the peace plan includes official U.S. recognition of large Israeli towns in Judea and Samaria, according to the source, who did not know which ones.
The rumored plan has been finalized, and U.S. President Trump “has been briefed on its contents,” reported Fox News on Sunday. “[It] is between 175 and 200 pages, and fewer than five people have access to the complete document,” added the news network.
“The plan is done … [the president] is happy with the parameters of the deal,” a senior administration official told the outlet.
‘A closely guarded secret’
The aforementioned plan mirrors what has been previously speculated.
Barak Ravid of Israel’s Channel 13 reported last month, citing a U.S. source, that the proposal will include the formation of a Palestinian state in around 90 percent of the West Bank with part of eastern Jerusalem as its capital, while western Jerusalem would be Israel’s capital.
The United States would also call for neighborhoods outside Judea and Samaria not to be extended and that towns deemed illegal by Israeli law shall be evacuated, according to Ravid’s source.
That report also said that its source claimed that the Palestinian state would be constructed on land more than twice the size of Areas A and B, which are currently controlled by the Palestinian Authority.
Additionally, the Channel 13 report said that the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the Mount of Olives would remain under Israeli control, but with administrative cooperation with the Palestinians.
U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt refuted that report: “While I respect @BarakRavid, his report on Israel’s Ch. 13 is not accurate. Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it … for now … ,” he tweeted.
“Over the coming period, unnamed sources will peddle narratives to the media & others based on motivations that are far from pure. Peddling false, distorted or biased stories to the media is irresponsible & harmful to the process. Israelis & Palestinians deserve better … ” he added. “I highly recommend that people listen only to official statements directly from [the president], [U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman], [White House senior adviser] Jared Kushner or me about the plan.”
While I respect @BarakRavid, his report on Israel’s Ch. 13 is not accurate. Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it … for now …
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) January 16, 2019
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) January 16, 2019
Kushner will give an update on the Trump administration’s peace proposal between the Israelis and the Palestinians as part of a discussion, hosted by former Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende, at this week’s Warsaw conference on the Middle East.
In a few weeks, Kushner will reportedly travel throughout the Middle East to promote the plan.
“On his trip to the Middle East, Kushner is expected to discuss with Arab officials the economic parts of the peace plan, which will entail huge investment in the Palestinian economy—mainly in Gaza,” reported Axios. “U.S. officials say Kushner will ask the Gulf states to contribute to the economic plan, but that he is not planning to discuss details from the political components of the plan during his tour of the region.”
A U.S. State Department official told JNS, “The administration continues to place a high priority on achieving a lasting and comprehensive peace that offers a brighter future to both Israel and the Palestinians. We intend to release the president’s vision when the administration concludes that we have maximized its potential for acceptance, execution and implementation.”
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
Nonetheless, it is far from certain the Palestinians will accept any peace plan, considering steps the Trump administration has taken to put them “in a weaker position heading into the final phases of this process,” Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told JNS.
“The Trump peace plan remains a closely guarded secret,” he said. “The op-sec has been remarkable and has prevented bursts of outrage from extremists on either side. For this, Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner deserve credit.”
“One thing we do know about the plan: The initial steps have infuriated the Palestinian leadership,” continued Schanzer. “The move of the embassy to Jerusalem, the defunding of UNRWA, the closing of the PLO office in Washington and the legislation to cut funding to the Palestinians in response to terror finance—all of these moves have put the Palestinians in a weaker position heading into the final phases of this process.”
Finally, he noted, “whatever the Palestinians are offered now will likely be significantly less than what they have been offered in the past. But they will also likely be offered more in terms of economic inducements. This economic plan will give them a chance to build something to benefit their people in the long term. It is unclear, however, whether the Palestinians leadership will accept the offer without political and symbolic concessionscon as well.”