Jan 30, 2020 - World

Trump peace plan leaves Palestinian capital walled off from Jerusalem

A wall separating East Jerusalem and Palestinian city Abu Dis

A wall separates East Jerusalem (left) and Palestinian city Abu Dis (right). Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP via Getty Images

The proposed capital of a future Palestinian state is just one reason why President Trump's peace plan is so widely opposed by Palestinian officials and activists.

Why it matters: Palestinian negotiators have long demanded a capital in East Jerusalem. In unveiling his plan, Trump said the capital would be in "Eastern Jerusalem." In fact, it's just outside the Old City in the Palestinian town of Abu Dis.

  • Trump's plan states: "Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the State of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city."
  • Abu Dis is a "relatively featureless urban sprawl" separated from East Jerusalem by a border wall, Reuters writes. It lacks any of the religious significance or cultural depth of Jerusalem.

Zoom out: Palestinians around the world were quick to reject Trump's plan, which they played no role in crafting and which allows Israel to annex parts of the West Bank — long a non-starter for Palestinian officials.

What they're saying:

  • Noura Erakat, a human rights attorney and assistant professor at Rutgers University, told CNN: "This is an Israeli plan. It consolidates all of its colonial takings for the past five decades, and it markets them somehow as a peace plan... the fact that Palestinian weren't even there today should make clear to everybody this is not a deal. This is a plan to consolidate Israel's colonial takings."
  • Diana Buttu, a Palestinian-Canadian lawyer and former spokesperson for the PLO, wrote in Newsweek: "Lasting peace requires justice and valuing Palestinian lives and needs equally to those of Israelis. It means allowing Palestinians to exercise their rights, including the right to live in freedom and genuine self-determination in their homeland. And it must be rooted in fairness and international law, not what extremist Israeli leaders say is acceptable."
  • Omar Baddar, the deputy director of the Arab American Institute told Axios: "The plan was predictably preposterous in the sense that Donald Trump carried out many steps leading up to this moment...[Palestinians] were not only left out but basically encouraged to leave."

Zoom in: "Palestinians in Abu Dis have been cut off from Jerusalem neighborhoods to the west by a high concrete wall that Israel built to stop suicide bombers and gunmen entering the city," Reuters notes.

  • "Students at a nearby university have used the wall as a backdrop to project movies during warm summer nights when they sit outside."
  • "The White House document accompanying the U.S. plan’s release said the barrier should 'serve as a border between the capitals of the two parties.'"

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