Jan 30, 2020

Trump peace plan leaves Palestinian capital walled off from Jerusalem

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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Arab League foreign ministers reject Trump peace plan

Bahrain's Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa arrives to attend an Arab League emergency meeting discussing the US Middle East peace plan, Cairo, Feb. 1. Photo: Khaled Desouki/Contributor/Getty Images

The foreign ministers of the member states of the Arab League unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday rejecting the Trump Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and said that "it does not satisfy the minimum of the rights and aspirations of the Palestinian people."

Why it matters: The Trump administration was counting on a coalition of Arab countries it has built over the last several years to prevent such a resolution and press the Palestinians to go back to the table. Those efforts did not materialize.

Go deeperArrowFeb 1, 2020 - World

White House blocks Palestinians at UN, urges direct talks on peace plan

Mahmoud Abbas at the UN Security Council. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

After blocking a Palestinian draft resolution at the UN Security Council rejecting its Middle East peace plan, the White House is signaling that it's willing to make changes to the plan if the Palestinians return to the table.

The backstory: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the plan in remarks today at the Security Council. That was to be followed by a vote on a resolution condemning the plan, but the Trump administration managed to delay the vote.

Go deeperArrowFeb 11, 2020 - World

Palestinians scramble for Arab backing against the Trump peace plan

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Jan.28, 2020, following the announcement by US President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan. Photo: Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

The Palestinians are scrambling to mobilize the Arab States against the Trump peace plan with very little success, Arab and U.S. officials told me. Many Arab states are privately and publicly pressing the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table for a better deal.

Why it matters: The foreign ministers of the Arab League member states will convene tomorrow in Cairo at the request of the Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to call on the Arab foreign ministers to back the Palestinians and pass a resolution criticizing the Trump plan.

Go deeperArrowJan 31, 2020 - World