by Hallum Cowell
The plan, entitled “Peace to Prosperity: A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People” was unveiled after three years of planning. The proposal was announced by Donald Trump alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on January 28. The aim of the proposal is to end the decades long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
While the plan has been largely well received by the Israeli Government the plan has been widely rejected by Palestine officials. The plan seeks to end the conflict between Israel and Palestine which has been ongoing in one form or another since the inception of the two nations following World War II.
The first big issue is that of Palestinian statehood and what borders that state would have as parts of Palestinian territory have been under Israeli occupation since the 1960s. The plan does not give back Palestine all of its occupied land; however, the White House has said that “[the plan] designates land reasonably comparable to the size to the West Bank and Gaza for the establishment of the state of Palestine.”
For Palestinian groups this is not what they were hoping for, while the Palestine Liberation Organisation acknowledged that: “[the plan] recognises Israel’s illegal colonisation and annexation of occupied lands.” The Palestinians were hoping for borders based upon the 1949 ceasefire lines while Israel argues that those borders are indefensible and as such is reluctant to give them up.
Israel seems open to the territorial changes and has agreed to a four-year-long land freeze so that the land promised to Palestine in the deal would remain undeveloped and open. These new borders would also cede the most fertile of the Palestinian land to Israel. The main problem with any border solution is that it is impossible to create clean borders, no matter what there will be enclaves and isolated communities, not to mention it will prove incredibly difficult for both sides to get a mutually agreed border deal.
Jerusalem is coveted by both nations as a centre of their faiths and both claim all or part of the city as their capitals. Within Trump’s peace plan he cedes the city to Israel saying, “Jerusalem will remain the sovereign capital of the state of Israel, and it should remain an undivided city.” The Israeli government is, therefore, approving of the result while Palestine is seeking for Eastern Jerusalem to be their capital. While the deal does state that parts of Eastern Jerusalem would belong to the Palestinians this is not enough for the Government to accept.
The deal has received the support of the Israeli Government as they called it “the opportunity of the century.” Meanwhile, Palestine has felt the cards stacked against it and has labelled the deal “the slap of the century” and vowed to consign the deal to “the dustbin of history.”
The deal comes at a strategic time for Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Both men are facing national elections in the foreseeable future and the deal will certainly strengthen Mr Netanyahu’s position.
With the US elections due in November of this year, it is argued that this move may be an attempt to attract many Evangelical Christians to vote for the Republican Party once again given that 80% of Evangelical Christians voted for him in 2016.
Talia Rose Sofizade from Cardiff’s Israel – Palestine dialogue society also gave us their thoughts on the plan, “I do not think the deal itself is conductive towards immediate peace. It is unjustly more geared towards Israeli security then it is toward the Palestinian right to self determination. However, I think and hope that thought it is far from ideal, it could be a definitive step in the right direction of peace; with Palestinian borders clearly defined this will mean the building of illegal settlements is frozen and a chance to build a true national identity for Palestine and a de-escalation of the occupation. If it goes ahead, it will be the beginning of a start that should have happened long ago”