Daily Briefing: ARAB LEADERS DIVIDED ON TRUMP PEACE PLAN (January 4,2020)

Table of Contents:

 

Map of the Trump peace plan. (Source: Wikipedia)

Trump’s Plan for Middle East Peace Hinges on Support From Arab Leaders. That’s Looking Unlikely:  Joseph Hincks, Time, Jan. 29, 2020


Arab Leaders’ Support for Mideast Peace Plan Marks a Regional Shift:  Dion Nissenbaum, WSJ, Jan. 29, 2020

US-Israel Peace Plan: Palestinians Should Abandon Posturing and Think Tactically:  Raguida Dergham, The National, Feb. 1, 2020


An Arab Case for the Trump Peace Plan:  Ahmad Charai, The Hill, Jan. 29, 2020

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Trump’s Plan for Middle East Peace Hinges on Support From Arab Leaders. That’s Looking Unlikely
Joseph Hincks
Time, Jan. 29, 2020

It came as no surprise that the “peace plan” President Donald Trump presented at the White House on Tuesday was immediately rejected by the Palestinian leadership, whose top diplomats have long referred to it as “dead on arrival.” But perhaps mindful of the need for multilateral legitimacy, White House aides had earlier this week scrambled to garner messages of approval, or at least neutrality, from allies across the region.

In a press call with reporters on Wednesday, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman described the response the blueprint Trump unveiled had generated in the region as “extraordinarily constructive.”

To Arab leaders, that would seem to be a stretch. While some U.S. allies greeted the plan with carefully caveated approval, casting the blueprint as a “starting point” or complementing Trump’s “endeavors,” others were openly critical. After the plan’s release, the Arab world’s clearest expression of support came from Egypt, which characterized it as an effort to advance “the stability and security of the Middle East.” Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the plan was “stillborn.”

Trump Called His Middle East Peace Plan a ‘Win Win.’ Palestinians Disagree
The muted response was evident even before the plan was actually released. Across the Arab world, only Oman, the UAE, and Bahrain dispatched ambassadors to the White House on Tuesday as Trump laid out his vision for the Middle East. Notably absent were ambassadors from Saudi Arabia, and from Jordan and Egypt, the two Arab countries that have peace treaties with Israel.

Spearheaded by Trump’s son-in-law and special adviser Jared Kushner, the White House proposal outlines a so-called “two-state” solution to the decades-long Israeli-Palestianian conflict, affording the Palestinians a capital in a portion of East Jerusalem. But the plan also greenlights Israel’s annexation of all major West Bank settlements, upholds Israeli control over an “undivided Jerusalem,” and requires the Palestinians to relinquish far more land than in previous administrations’ mediation efforts. Democrats slammed it as “one-sided” and “delusional,” and some analysts argued that the “state” it offered the Palestinians was actually no state at all.

Here’s how leaders in the Middle East responded to the proposal.

Egypt

Egypt is the only country besides Jordan to have a peace deal with Israel. For the last 12 years, Cairo has helped Israel maintain its blockade of the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the militant group Hamas. While Egyptian-Israeli relations appeared shaky during the Muslim Brotherhood’s short tenure, they solidified again when General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took power after a 2013 coup in 2013. Trump has forged close ties with Egypt’s authoritarian leader, reportedly describing him in 2019 as “my favorite dictator.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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Arab Leaders’ Support for Mideast Peace Plan Marks a Regional Shift
Dion Nissenbaum
WSJ, Jan. 29, 2020

President Trump’s Middle East peace plan has jolted regional dynamics, with Israel preparing to quickly annex West Bank land once expected to be part of a Palestinian state and key Arab leaders tentatively backing the U.S. initiative.
For decades, Arab and Muslim leaders have held fast to the view that any deal with Israel should include a withdrawal of Israeli forces from Palestinian land, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with parts of East Jerusalem as its capital.

While many Middle East leaders still support those goals, officials in Arab capitals have been frustrated by Palestinian leaders’ reluctance to compromise on those points, which has prevented them from strengthening ties with Israel, officials in the region said.

The Trump administration has wooed officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain, and other nations in the region in an effort to transcend the political impasse, and to some extent they are responding. The most important regional players—Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.—both urged Palestinian leaders to accept the Trump plan as a basis for new talks with Israel, a move that would force them to make significant concessions, such as Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley.

“What’s historic here is that it’s the first time, I think since the start of the conflict, that the Arab position has not been a replica of the Palestinian position,” said David Makovsky, director of the Project on Arab-Israel Relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “That speaks to a wider sense of regional priorities that the Arab countries have, whether it is Iran, Yemen, Libya or closer ties with the U.S.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu moved swiftly after the release of Tuesday’s plan to begin the process for annexing all Israeli settlements in the West Bank and parts of the Jordan Valley. Such a step would effectively cement Israel’s hold on land that has been one of the more divisive issues in previous peace talks.

Israeli leaders indicated on Wednesday that they might slow the annexations, but they have support from the Trump administration, making them likely to move ahead.

The U.A.E., Bahrain, and Oman all sent their U.S. ambassadors to the White House on Tuesday, where their presence offered symbolic support for a plan that tilts heavily in Israel’s favor and rejects many longstanding Palestinian demands as non-negotiable.

The U.A.E. called the Trump plan a serious initiative that should be an “important starting point for a return to negotiations.” … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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US-Israel Peace Plan: Palestinians Should Abandon Posturing and Think Tactically
Raguida Dergham
The National, Feb. 1, 2020

Who will stand up to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, dubbed the “deal of the century”, which he unveiled alongside Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House last week? That is the question the Palestinian people might be asking themselves following what was a sad day for their aspirations of nationhood.

European countries, collectively or individually, will not oppose the proposed deal. The most they can do is improve the economic and financial offer extended to the Palestinians while taking measures to prevent the inflow of refugees. Russia will not oppose the US as the erstwhile Soviet Union had done when the Arab-Israeli conflict was a key component of the Cold War. Today, Moscow could perhaps recall international resolutions and revive the “quartet”, comprising the United Nations, the US, the European Union and itself. It could also convene an international conference and encourage negotiations, but little beyond this. For its part, China will adhere to its traditional position on the Arab-Israeli conflict, as well as international principles enshrining the Palestinian right to statehood, but Beijing will not bring this issue into the calculations of its relationship with the US.

The Arab countries meanwhile are divided in an unprecedented manner. Some have highlighted shortfalls in the proposal, while others have called for negotiations to improve the terms and others still have encouraged the Palestinians to focus on the positives.

Iran and Turkey will engage in one-upmanship, using the issue to fulfill their domestic and regional agendas. Beyond the use of shiny slogans devoid of meaning, neither country is interested in having a direct confrontation with Israel or risking further US sanctions – particularly if they engage Israel through their proxies.

Now, there is no doubt that the proposed deal – meant to serve the electoral purposes of both Mr Trump and Mr Netanyahu – prejudices Palestinian rights, and defies international law and UN resolutions. Mr Trump has also in effect retracted from commitments made by several US administrations over decades to the two-state solution. However, the one positive from the proposed deal is that Jared Kushner, Mr Trump’s son-in-law and the plan’s architect, has persuaded Mr Netanyahu to at least postpone annexing the West Bank settlements as well as the Jordan Valley. The latter is a strategic area occupying 30 per cent of the West Bank and gives Israel the ability to lock in the Palestinian state, thereby denying it sovereignty. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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An Arab Case for the Trump Peace Plan
Ahmad Charai
The Hill, Jan. 29, 2020

Count me among a large number of Arabs who have long believed that the Trump peace plan deserves a chance — albeit one of the few who says so publicly. I have held this view to the surprise of many American, Israeli, and Palestinian friends.

Americans I know disparage the architects — led by Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner — as neophytes, too young and inexperienced to develop a viable solution.

Most Israelis I know have doubted whether any plan that meets Israel’s minimal security requirements for a solution could win Palestinian acceptance — to say nothing of a plan that exceeds those requirements.

As to my Palestinian friends, who adopt a moderate outlook not dissimilar from that of left-of-center Americans and Israelis, they have feared the erosion of the two-state solution by a White House know for its affinity for the settler movement.

Now the text of the plan has been released, and my phone is ringing off the hook. Asked whether I still believe in the plan, my answer remains the same.

The contents obviate several key concerns of its detractors, and the rollout has chalked up several achievements which prior peace initiatives did not. For the sake of future generations of Israelis and Palestinians, the region and the world should wish and work for the plan’s success.

To those who warned that the Trump administration was eroding the long-held U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, we now have an explicit reaffirmation of that goal, with a practical plan for achieving it.

The failure to build vibrant Palestinian civil, economic, and cultural institutions has always been a significant obstacle to their dream of statehood — as surely as the Israeli people’s success at doing so over the years preceding their declaration of statehood was a major asset.

Thus, it is pragmatic to open a four-year window for the Palestinians to pursue such an outcome, as the Trump plan essentially does.
No prior conception of a peace settlement, moreover, has gone as far in articulating a plan to foster Palestinian civil and economic vitality.
The Bahrain economic workshop convened some observers criticized last year for the fact that the Palestinian leadership refused to participate. But the substance of the elaborate economic vision — not widely covered or discussed — was serious and credible.

The fact that it convened in an Arab capital and won large pledges of financial support from Saudi Arabia and other countries was unprecedented. And the fact that both Hamas and the PLO rejected it sight unseen should not obscure the presence of some Palestinians at the event. They paid a heavy price back home — but many young Palestinians applauded their courage. … [To read the full article, click the following LINK – Ed.]
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For Further Reference:

 

WATCH:  Trump’s Plan Last Chance for a Palestinian State, Says Kushner:  Jared Kushner, AlJazeera, Jan. 28, 2020 — Donald Trump’s Middle East plan is the last chance for the Palestinians to have a state, Jared Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law and special adviser, has said.

 

Arab League Rejects Trump’s Middle East Plan:  AlJazeera, Feb. 1, 2020 — The Arab League has completely rejected US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan during an emergency meeting in Egypt’s capital, saying it would not lead to a just peace deal.

 

Sisi Says No Alternative for Direct Talks Between Israel, Palestine Amid US Mideast Plan Controversy:  Ahromonline, Feb. 1, 2020  Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said there is no alternative for direct talks between Israel and Palestine, stressing Egypt’s steadfast position towards resolving the Palestinian crisis through the establishment of an independent state amid controversy over the recently announced US MidEast plan.

 

Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Satisfies No One:  Tania Krämer, DW, Feb. 1, 2020 — Salah Eddin Street in East Jerusalem, just outside the old city, is as busy as any weekend. The so-called “deal of the century” presented by US President Donald Trump earlier this week is the topic of discussion, anger and bewilderment for many Palestinians here.

 

Turkish President Recep Erdogan Attacks ‘Treason of Middle East Countries’ including Saudi Arabia for Staying Silent over President Donald Trump’s ‘Peace Plan’ for Israel and Palestine Ryan Fahey, Daily Mail,  Jan. 31, 2020 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday blasted several Arab countries for backing a Middle East peace plan unveiled by the United States, condemning it as ‘treason’.

 

Trump’s Critics Shouldn’t Encourage Palestinians to Make Another Mistake Jonathan S. Tobin, JNS, Jan. 28, 2020 — As far as Americans who despise President Donald Trump go, as well as for many Jews and Israelis who feel the same way about Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the ceremony unveiling a new U.S. peace plan for the Middle East was a sham.