President Donald Trump released his long-awaited Middle East peace plan in the East Room of the White House on Tuesday. The process has been led by his senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
The plan calls for “the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in portions of east Jerusalem, ending speculation as to whether his administration, in preparing a proposal without input from Palestinian leaders, would abandon a ‘two-state resolution’ to the conflict,” the Associated Press reported.
Trump tweeted in Hebrew after the announcement of the peace plan. “I will always stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I strongly support their safety and security and their right to live in their historic homeland. It’s time for peace!”
Here’s what you need to know.
1. President Trump Released His Middle East Peace Plan at the White House With Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House on Monday to be briefed on the plan before Tuesday’s announcement. Palestinian leaders did not attend the event and have cut off negotiations with the Trump Administration.
Trump said the plan is “a big step towards peace” for Israel. “Young people across the Middle East are ready for a more hopeful future and governments throughout the region are realizing that terrorism and Islamic extremism are everyone’s common enemy,” Trump said on Tuesday.
“This is a plan that’s very important to peace in the Middle East,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday. “No matter where I went, they say Israel and the Palestinians have to make peace before you can really have peace in the Middle East. So people have been working on this for many, many years and I think we’re relatively close but we have to get other people to agree with it all. So I will say many of the Arab nations have agreed to it. They like it. They think it’s great. They think it’s a big start. I think it’s a big start too. I think it’s a fantastic thing if we can pull it off.”
Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, has been working on the plan since shortly after Trump took office.
According to TIME, “an Israeli television report that aired Friday characterized Kushner’s plan as “the most generous proposal ever presented to Israel.” According to some Israeli media reports, it would pave the way for Israel’s annexation of virtually all settlements in the West Bank, which Israel has controlled since the Six-Day War of 1967, give Israel full sovereignty over Jerusalem.”
“This is the convergence of personal interests of the respective leaders of the United States and Israel,” Gilead Sher, former Chief of Staff and Policy Coordinator to Prime Minister Ehud Barak and now a senior fellow at Tel Aviv’s Institute for National Security Studies, told TIME. “It is not necessarily in the interests of either Israel, the United States or the Palestinians.”
2. Palestinian Leaders Said President Donald Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan Will Fail
Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat told AFP that the Palestine Liberation Organisation could with draw from the Oslo Accords. Trump’s plan will turn Israel’s “temporary occupation (of Palestinian territory) into a permanent occupation,” Erekat said.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniya warned Sunday Trump’s plan “will not pass” and could lead to renewed Palestinian resistance, AFP reported.
This “new plot aimed against Palestine is bound to fail” and could lead the Palestinians to a “new phase in their struggle” against Israel, the leader of the Gaza Strip’s Islamist movement said in a statement.
“If the Trump plan is not based on the fundamental principle of ‘land for peace,’ then I don’t think it’s going to go anywhere because you cannot deny Palestinian self determination,” Edward Djerejian, who served as U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Bill Clinton, told Britain’s SkyNews. If the plan involves security, economic or other arrangements, “something short of a territorial compromise that would eventually have an independent Palestinian state living in peace and security next to an independent Israeli state, I think this plan will go nowhere.”
The Palestinian leadership, which cut off contact with the Trump administration after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, are totally out of the loop and have preemptively rejected Kushner’s effort.
3. President Donald Trump’s Senior Advisor Jared Kushner Has Led the Trump Administration’s Middle East Peace Process Since His Father-In-Law Took Office
Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, has led the charge to come up with a plan for peace in the Middle East. Details of his process over the past three years have been largely behind the scenes. His team, according to Axios, includes Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, special representative for international negotiations Avi Berkowitz, and senior State Department official Brian Hook.
In June 2019, the White House released “Peace to Prosperity: A New Vision for the Palestinians and the Broader Middle East.” It is described as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society. It consists of three initiatives that will support distinct pillars of the Palestinian society: the economy, the people, and the government.”
Kushner led a two-day workshop in Bahrain to discuss the proposal. He told reporters at the workshop that Palestinian leaders need to do more to help achieve prosperity for the Palestinian people. “If they actually want to make their people’s lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” he said, according to Aljazeera. “We’re going to stay optimistic. We have left the door open the whole time. What the [Palestinian] leadership has done is that they’ve blamed Israel and everyone else for all the people’s problems, when in fact the common theme coming up is that this is all achievable if the government wants to make these reforms.”
Palestinian leaders boycotted the June 2019 workshop and cut off contact with the Trump administration after President Donald Trump moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
4. Jared Kushner Said in 2019 That the Trump Administration’s Middle East Peace Plan Would Not Be Called a ‘Two-State Solution’
During a conversation at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in May 2019, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and main architect of the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan, said he would not call any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict a “two-state solution.”
Kushner called that term a “high-level concept” that was obstructing a deal for a new Middle East peace plan. He said he and his team decided not to use that term.
“I realized that means different things to different people,” Kushner said. “If you say ‘Two State’ it means one thing to the Israelis and it means one thing to the Palestinians, so we said let’s not say it.”
“If there are disagreements, hopefully they can disagree about certain specifics as opposed to disagreeing about high-level concepts.”
The two-state solution was laid out in the 1993 Middle East peace plan, known as the Oslo Accords.
In 1993 Israel, led by [Israel Prime Minister Yitzhak] Rabin’s foreign minister Shimon Peres, held a series of negotiations with the PLO in Oslo, Norway. In early September Yasser Arafat sent a letter to Rabin saying that the PLO recognized Israel’s right to exist, accepted UN Resolutions 242 and 338 (which called for lasting peace with Israel in exchange for Israel’s withdrawal to its pre-1967 borders), and renounced terrorism and violence. Days later they signed a Declaration of Principles (known as the Oslo Accords), agreeing to set up Palestinian self-government over five years’ time in exchange for Palestinian partnership in matters of Israeli security. The most contentious issues (including Jerusalem, final borders and Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and the return of Palestinian refugees) were set to be discussed after that five-year period.
5. Palestinian Leaders Said They Could Leave the 1993 Oslo Accords If President Trump’s Peace Plan Is Enacted
In a tweet, Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestine Liberation Organization has the right to withdraw from the Oslo Accords, saying President Donald Trump’s plan is “an attempt to destroy the two states.”
“The pact established a timetable for the Middle East peace process. It planned for an interim Palestinian government in Gaza and Jericho in the West Bank,” according to CNN.