Middle Eastern nations offered mixed reactions to President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, a framework negotiated without the participation of Palestinians, who have been engaged in a land dispute with the world’s only majority-Jewish nation since its creation in 1948.
Trump released his “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future” alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday at a White House gathering boycotted by Palestinian officials that have severed ties to the administration over its decision to recognize the contested city of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Trump billed his initiative as the most detailed yet after successive U.S. administrations have tried and failed for years to settle the conflict.
The president’s plan grants Israel control over internationally-unrecognized Jewish settlements and occupied areas bordering Jordan in exchange for a Palestinian path to potential statehood and some desert territories along the Egyptian border should the Palestinians renounce violence and recognize Israel as a Jewish state. The strategy would also see up to $50 billion invested in Palestinian-administered territories.
Both Netanyahu and his upcoming elections rival Benny Gantz endorsed the proposal, but it was received less warmly in the Middle East.
Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas roundly rejected the Trump administration’s strategy even before it was released. Following Trump’s reveal on Tuesday, Abbas held a press conference at which he responded to the plan “with a thousand no’s,” especially to the U.S. proposal for an “undivided” Israeli capital in Jerusalem and a separate Palestinian capital somewhere on the eastern outskirts of the holy city.
“Jerusalem is not for sale. Our rights are not for sale. Your conspiracy deal will not pass,” Abbas stated, warning that the Palestinian people will dump his plan “into the dustbin of history.”
Previously on Tuesday, Abbas spoke via telephone with Ismail Haniyeh, the chief of Palestinian Sunni Islamist movement Hamas. The two stressed unity in the face of the U.S. strategy.
“The comprehensive and united resistance is capable of thwarting all the projects to liquidate the Palestinian cause, foremost of which is the ‘deal of the century,'” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qasem said Tuesday in a press statement, stressing “that the occupation will not obtain security through the deal of the century or any other promises as long as it occupies our land and our sanctities.”
Jordan is one of only two Arab countries that has a peace agreement with Israel, the other being Egypt. Still, Israel’s planned landgrab across the border is likely to be controversial among the kingdom’s Palestinian-origin majority.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called in a statement Tuesday for a “just and lasting peace that meets all the legitimate rights of the brotherly Palestinian people” but stated that a two-state solution would need to respect Palestinian claims to territories occupied by Israel since the Six-Day War of 1967, including an East Jerusalem capital.
“Jordan must condemn unilateral Israeli measures in violation of international law and provocative actions that push the region toward more tension and escalation,” he said.
“Jordan will continue to work with Arab countries and the international community for realizing peace,” Safadi added, offering support for “every real effort aimed at achieving a just and comprehensive peace accepted by the peoples.”
The Saudi Foreign Ministry said it had reviewed the U.S. plan and would support any path toward realizing “a just and comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue.”
“The kingdom appreciates the efforts made by the Trump administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, and encourages the initiation and direct negotiations of peace between the Palestinian and Israeli sides under the auspices of the United States of America and to address any differences on any aspects of the plan through negotiations,” the ministry said.
Saudi King Salman also called Abbas directly, telling him that “your issue is ours, and the issue of Arabs and Muslims, and we are with you,” according to the Palestine News Agency, the official outlet of the Palestinian National Authority.
Iran has portrayed itself as the premier supporter of the Palestinian cause and actively backs armed Palestinian groups such as Hamas, along with the power Shiite Muslim Hezbollah movement in Lebanon and other friendly forces in Syria and Iraq, where Israel has stepped up a semi-covert campaign against them. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Mousavi termed Trump’s plan “the betrayal of the century.”
“The Zionist regime is a usurper and occupation regime, and the only solution to the Palestinian crisis will be to hold a referendum among the main inhabitants of the land of Palestine, and such vicious plans are doomed to failure,” Mousavi said.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif called Trump’s proposal “simply the dream project of a bankruptcy-ridden real estate developer.”
“But it is a nightmare for the region and the world,” Zarif added. “And, hopefully, a wake-up call for all the Muslims who have been barking up the wrong tree #LetsUniteforPalestine.
Turkey has often criticized what it saw as harsh and unfair Israeli policies towards Palestinians but was more recently feuding with Israel over disputed maritime territory in the oil-and-gas-rich Mediterranean Sea. In a statement issued Tuesday, the Turkish Foreign Ministry called the U.S. plan “stillborn.”
“This is an annexation plan aiming to destroy the two-state solution and seize the Palestinian territories. The people and the land of Palestine cannot be bought off,” the statement said. “Jerusalem is our red line. We will not allow any step seeking to legitimize Israel’s occupation and atrocities. We will always stand by the brotherly Palestinian people and will continue to work for an independent Palestine on Palestinian land.”
“We will not support any plan that does not have the support of Palestine,” it added. “There will not be any peace in the Middle East without ending Israel’s occupation policies.”
Egypt was once the primary military backer of Palestinian commandos battling Israel but the countries’ 1979 peace treaty, facilitated by President Jimmy Carter, helped pave the way for plans for Palestinian autonomy. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said Tuesday the country “appreciates the continued efforts made by the American administration to reach a comprehensive and just peace for the Palestinian cause, thus contributing to supporting stability and security in the Middle East, and ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Cairo called on both sides “to carefully study the American vision for achieving peace, find out all its dimensions, and open channels of dialogue to resume negotiations under American auspices, to put forward the vision of the Palestinian and Israeli parties towards it, in order to reach an agreement that meets the aspirations and hopes of the two peoples in achieving a comprehensive and just peace between them.”
A solution, the statement said, should grant Palestinians their “full legitimate rights through the establishment of their independent sovereign state over the occupied Palestinian territories, in accordance with international legitimacy.”
United Arab Emirates
The ambassadors of the UAE, Bahrain and Oman to the U.S. all attended Trump’s talk Tuesday in an apparent sign of support for his Israeli-Palestinian initiative. Emirati envoy Yousef al-Otaiba said Abu Dhabi “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement. This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years.”
“The only way to guarantee a lasting solution is to reach an agreement between all concerned parties,” he added. “The UAE believes that Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community.
The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”
Influential movements opposed to Israel also expressed their criticism of Trump’s plan. Lebanon’s Hezbollah “expressed its condemnation and strong rejection of the shameful deal launched by the savage Trump administration at the expense of the Palestinian people, their land, sanctities and their legitimate natural rights,” according to the group’s affiliated Al Manar outlet.
“The deal is a very dangerous step that will have very bad repercussions on the future of the region and its people,” the group added.
Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, spokesperson for the Zaidi Shiite Muslim movement known as Ansar Allah, or the Houthi movement, said the “deal of the century will remain an illusion, and will not change the reality of Arab and Islamic awareness of the centrality of the Palestinian cause,” using language that mirrored the group’s stance toward Kushner’s economic proposal first revealed last June.
A day before Trump’s announcement, Islamic State militant group (ISIS) spokesperson Abu Hamza al-Qurayshi also blasted the anticipated plan during a 37-minute audio message. He called on “Muslims in Palestine and all countries” to “be a spearhead in the war against the Jews and in thwarting their plans and their deal of the century,” also criticizing Iran and Hamas.