In another controversial foreign policy decision, Donald Trump has now added further fuel to the never-ending Israel-Palestine conflict and several world leaders are outraged by the peace settlement plan that he released yesterday.
The dispute over Israel-controlled territories, Gaza Strip, The West Bank and the holy city of Jerusalem has played out for over a century and, for 53 years has been perhaps the most complicated and controversial conflict in the Middle East.
“Today, Israel takes a big step towards peace,” Trump told BBC reporters, following the announcements of America’s latest plan to achieve a resolution between Isreal and Palestine. He is pursuing a two-state solution.
“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel’s security.”
Trump has drawn up a conceptual map that illustrates the territories over which Israel is willing to negotiate and the US will recognise the sovreignity over the region. It will “more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in Eastern Jerusalem”. Trump also says that the US will open an embassy in Eastern Jerusalem. However, Jerusalem “will remain Israel’s undivided capital”, Trump says, after recognising Jerusalem as Irael’s capital rather than Tel Aviv, as it was before his administration got involved in negotiations.
Palestinians insist that Eastern Jerusalem, which was their territory prior to the 1967 Middle East War, will serve as any future sovereign state’s capital. Trump’s plan vaguely describes an opportunity for Palestine to build out its own sovereign state, but contains very few details. Neighbouring Jordan also has a religious trust set up to manage the disputes of holy sites in Jerusalem, such as Temple Mount and al-Haram al-Sharif. It also suggests that Jewish settlements in the West Bank will remain. However, the plan will be undeveloped for a further four years in order to ensure that Palestinians can study and fairly negotiate the terms of the plan.
“The only way to guarantee a lasting solution is to reach an agreement between all concerned parties,” United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The UAE believes that Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community.”
Meanwhile, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has given Al Jazeera a far less positive response.
This is a deal between the Zionist regime (Israel) and America. Interaction with Palestinians is not on its agenda. This is not a peace plan but a plan of imposition and sanctions.”
Iran’s foreign ministry also said in a statement that, “The shameful peace plan imposed by America on the Palestinians is the treason of the century and doomed to fail.”
Hamas official, Sami Abu Zhuri later told Reuters, “Trump’s statement about Jerusalem is nonsense and Jerusalem will always be the land of the Palestinians. The Palestinians will confront this deal and Jerusalem will remain a Palestinian land.”
“After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand no’s to the Deal of The Century,” Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas told Al Jazeera.
The Isreal-Palestine conflict dates back all the way to the Ottoman Empire and escalated with Britain’s 1917 “Balfour Declaration” that expressed support for a Jewish “national home” after they defeated the predominantly Muslim Empire in World War I. In 1947, the UN made it’s first attempt to partition the territory into Jewish and Arabic territories (which was supported by Jews and rejected by Arabs). Israeli statehood was declared in 1948, creating 700,000 Palestinian refugees and 800,000 Jews from surrounding Arab territories to be expelled from their homes. Then the 1967 Middle Eastern War kickstarted decades of bloodshed, primarily due to the Israeli forced occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Eastern Jerusalem – a move condemned by the UN Security Council. Between 1987 and 1993, we experienced the First Palestinian Uprising, which was a revolt against Israeli occupation and resulted in the 1993 Oslo peace accords being signed. It was effective until the Second Palestinian Uprising from 2000 to 2005. The last round of direct negotiations between Israel and Palestine ended in April 2014 and the last major event of this conflict came about when Trump announced in December 2017 the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, after which Palestine cut off relations with Trump’s administration.
For a very long time in what appears to be a never-ending conflict, Israel and Palestine have been and will be in dispute over boarders, settlements, refugees, Palestinian statehood and recognition, and over claims to religious sites in Jerusalem. And while Trump’s administration boast about an opportunity to create peace in the region, the truth is that he’s only met with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and not Palestinians to conduct negotiations for a peace settlement. This is not being well received and it appears that the conflict will endure.