Why Israelis and Palestinians will hate Trump’s peace plan

In spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lauding of US President Donald Trump, many Israelis are likely be up in arms about the plan.

U.S. President Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu at the unveiling of Trump's "Deal of the Century," January 28, 2020 (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
U.S. President Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu at the unveiling of Trump's "Deal of the Century," January 28, 2020
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
US President Donald Trump’s peace plan has given Israel a historic opportunity to apply sovereignty to all of the West Bank settlements, something that no other plan has ever offered.
It also gives the Palestinians, for the first time, a Trump administration recognition of their right to a state, including a capital in east Jerusalem.
But in spite of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s lauding of the president, many Israelis are likely be up in arms about the plan.
For many Palestinians it is a lose-lose proposition; with regard to core issues, it gives them less in the long run than past plans. But it does offer them economic support to thrive, should they move forward with the plan.

A PALESTINIAN STATE
The plans recognize Palestinian statehood and concedes that a two-state solution is the best resolution to the conflict. The Palestinians have waited three years to hear Trump speak of their right to self-determination so forcibly. The word statehood had been so absent, that there was wide speculation that it might not be part of the plan.
The plan, however, sets preconditions for attaining statehood. Palestinians can do so only if they recognize Israel as a Jewish state, reject terrorism and halt payments to terrorists jailed by Israel and their families. They must halt incitement against Israel and Jews, particularly in school textbooks.
Trump’s vision is for a demilitarized state, with an internal Palestinian security force but without an army, thereby leaving the protection of Palestine to the Israeli army. Israel would control Palestine's borders, airspace and coastal waters.
It’s a step Israel has insisted is necessary for its security – and one that the Palestinians have rejected because they see it as an extension of the “occupation.” The Palestinians would prefer to have an international force secure their state.
Israel’s security footprint would be dependent on how well the Palestinian security forces were able to put a halt to Palestinian terror attacks against Israel.
But Palestinians hold that statehood should be immediate and not subject to any preconditions. They have flatly refused to recognize the Jewish nature of the State of Israel, fearing it places Israeli-Arabs there in a precarious position. The Palestinians have also refused to halt payments to terrorists, whom they believe are taking action on behalf of the just cause of ending the Israeli “occupation.”
Many right-wing Israelis are opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state in any form in the West Bank, and had hoped that Trump’s peace plan would not recognize one.
Right-wing Israelis fear a Palestinian state would become another failed Middle Eastern state that would be taken over by radical militant groups and pose a security threat to Israel, akin to the events in Gaza that have allowed Hamas to forcibly rule that enclave.

THE PRE-1967 LINES
Trump's peace plan disavows the pre-1967 lines as the basis for a peace agreement, stating that Israel is not “legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100% of pre-1967 territory." It does hold, however, that a fair compromise would be to provide the Palestinians with territory comparable in size to that of the West Bank and Gaza prior to 1967.
Prior to the Trump administration, the consensus of the international community and of the former Obama administration was that a two-state solution would be based on the pre-1967 lines, with east Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state.
The Trump plan totally dismisses the 1967-lines. It gives the Palestinians less territory than they wanted in Jerusalem and the West Bank, and less than they would have received under any previous plan. Most significantly, it recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital from the outset and grants Israel sovereignty in a majority of the city.
Palestinians want all of east Jerusalem as their capital, while right-wing Israelis want all of Jerusalem as their united city.
Trump’s plan gives the Palestinians a symbolic presence in the city by designating areas within Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries – but outside the barrier to their state – as the eventual capital of Palestine. He even promised to build an embassy there.

THE TEMPLE MOUNT
Past plans had sought an international regime for Jerusalem’s Old City and the Temple Mount, known to Jews as Har ha-Bayit and to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif. It is Judaism’s most holy site and the location of Islam’s third holiest site, the Aqsa Mosque. Palestinians had imagined that both the Old City and al-Haram al-Sharif would be part of their state.
Trump’s plan places both areas under Israeli sovereignty – but with respect to the Temple Mount, it leaves the status quo intact, so that it remains under the custodianship of the Islamic Wakf, with one critical exception: Jews would now be allowed to pray there. The Palestinians have opposed any Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, and such prayer has therefore been forbidden.
This point, of Jewish prayer on the Temple Mount, has been a flash point for violence, and the specter of it has threatened to start a religious war.
According to the Trump plan, however, “People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a manner that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.”

SOVEREIGNTY OVER WEST BANK SETTLEMENTS
No past plan has included sovereignty over all Israeli settlements. But in the absence of any significant progress on the peace track, right-wing Israelis and settlers had begun to presume that Area C, which makes up 60% of the West Bank, would be part of sovereign Israel. They had plans to vastly expand settlement there, with dreams of a population of more than a million Jews.
Palestinians had similarly wanted Area C to be part of their future state, because it is on the largest tract of undeveloped land in the West Bank. The current plan gives Israel 30% of the West Bank – which is less of Area C than what they have now – and gives the Palestinians the remaining 70%.
The plan allows for Israel to hold on to the communities it has built, but does not allow for expansion. More specifically, it bars Israel from increasing its hold on Area C. It calls for a settlement freeze in all portions of Area C not under Israeli sovereignty – not even at the planning stage.
Settlers are also concerned about the fate of 15 isolated settlements that would be placed in enclaves, within territory that would otherwise be part of a Palestinian state. The fear is that the such placement would ultimately doom those communities and make it untenable for the residents to continue living there.
These 15 communities are: Hermesh, Mevo Dotan, Elon Moreh, Itamar, Har Bracha, Yitzhar, Ateret, Ma’aleh Amos, Asfar, Karme Zur, Telem, Adorah, Negohot, Beit Haggai and Otniel.
The plan also green lights Palestinian construction in Area C within the footprint of Arab communities and prevents the demolition of existing illegal Palestinian homes in those areas. Effectively, it ends the battle for Area C.

POPULATION TRANSFER
Past plans have spoken of land swaps, but have not included areas where Israeli-Arabs live.
The Trump plan states: “Land swaps provided by the State of Israel could include both populated and unpopulated areas.”
It speaks of the possibility that the following communities in an area of the country, known as the Triangle, could become part of the Palestinian state. This would include: Kafr Qara, Ar’ara, Baha al-Gharbiyye, Umm al Fahm, Qalansawe, Tayibe, Kafr Qasim, Tira, Kafr Bara and Jaljuliya. Netanyahu has promised that no Arabs would be uprooted, but he has made no mention of the possibility that their communities would be redrawn into a Palestinian state. The possibility of such a population transfer has been one of the more controversial ideas that right-wing Israelis have placed on the table.

REFUGEES
Palestinians have insisted on a right of return for refugees and their descendants to sovereign Israel. Israel has objected to the execution of that right within the context of a two-state solution, which would create two ethnic national homelands: one for the Jews and one for the Palestinians.
Israel has insisted that the right of return for Palestinian refugees would be to their own state, much like the right of return for Jews is to Israel. There has been some tacit Palestinian acknowledgement that the right of return could be satisfied by a just resolution, which acknowledges the right of return but includes other options such as compensation.
Trump’s plan states clearly that, “there shall be no right of return by absorption of any Palestinian refugees into the State of Israel.” It stipulates that Palestinian refugees should be resettled in the Palestinian state – or in another country.
Over the last three years, the Trump administration has charged that the issue of Palestinian refugees has created a stumbling block to the peace process. It blamed the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA) for granting that status to the descendants of the original refugees living in the West Bank, Gaza, east Jerusalem, Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. Such a definition, it said, creates an ever expanding class of refugees that could not possibly be absorbed into a Jewish state.
Trump’s peace plan, however, makes use of that UNRWA list to determine who is and who is not a refugee. But once an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement is concluded, the agency would cease to exist. Relevant governments would service the refugees, and a fund – the Palestinian Refugee Trust – would be created to help them.
Trump’s peace plan also recognizes rights of Jewish refugees who were forced by neighboring Arab countries to flee their homes in the aftermath of the State of Israel's creation in 1948. The plan calls for a compensation mechanism to be developed for those refugees as well.

PALESTINIAN PRISONERS
The plan calls for the release of Palestinian detainees and prisoners from Israeli jails – unless they were prisoners convicted of murder, attempted murder or conspiracy to commit murder, including within the framework of terrorism activities. Palestinians would want to see all prisoners released from Israeli jails and are unlikely to be satisfied with half-way measures.
The release would happen in two stages. The first stage would include minors, women and Palestinians over 50, as well as those who have served two-thirds of their sentence. The remainder would be released during a second stage.
The plan would also ensure the return of the two Israeli citizens held by Palestinians in Gaza as well as the remains of the two soldiers held there.