WORLD NEWS
Trump peace plan ‘will split Jerusalem’

PRESIDENT Donald Trump’s long-awaited peace plan will divide Jerusalem, according to leaked reports this week.

It will also include a Palestinian state on 85-90 per cent of the West Bank.

Trump’s “deal of the century” is expected to be rolled out after the Israeli elections on April 9.

The report — based on a source who took part in a briefing on the plan in Washington by a senior American official — said it calls for the annexation of the large settlements and the evacuation of settlement outposts deemed illegal under Israeli law.

Isolated settlements, such as Yitzhar and Itamar, would not be evacuated under the plan, but no further building would be allowed in order to “dry them out”.

The plan, details of which have been a closely guarded secret for months, also calls for a land swap for the land that Israel will annex, though the ratio of the swap was not immediately clear, according to the report.

Details of the plan were revealed on Israel’s Channel 13 News.

The report said that Jerusalem would be divided, with west Jerusalem and some areas of east Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and east Jerusalem — including most of the Arab areas — the capital of a Palestinian state.

Israel would retain sovereignty over the Old City and its immediate environs, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, but it would be administered together with the Palestinians, Jordanians and perhaps other countries.

The report said that the White House expectation was for the Palestinians to reject the plan when it is presented, but for Israel to give a positive response.

The Palestinians, who have cut off ties with America, have said that they would reject any plan that Trump would put forward.

If the report about the contours of the plan is accurate, the amount of land that would make up the Palestinian state is more than double Areas A and B, where the Palestinians today have control, but less than what former premier Ehud Olmert offered Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas in 2008, which he rejected.

Olmert offered a near-total withdrawal from the West Bank, proposing that Israel keep 6.3 per cent of Judea and Samaria to incorporate the large settlement blocs, and compensate the Palestinians with Israeli land equivalent to 5.8 per cent of the West Bank.

He also proposed putting the Old City and the holy sites under international control.

A senior White House official said in response to the report: “As in the past, speculation with regard to the content of the plan is not accurate. We have no further comment.”

An official in the Prime Minister’s Office said it had “nothing to offer” on the news report.

Beit El Council head Shai Alon said: “The US president has achieved many things. He was the first [president] to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem and to recognise our rights to the Holy City.

“But his solution to the conflict with the Palestinians is filled with holes, and of course we oppose it.”

The days in which Jewish building in Judea and Samaria is frozen have come and gone, he added.

And he added: “We have survived hard times in Judea and Samaria, and now we are focused on building and strengthening the place [to absorb] tens of thousands of families.

“We say no to land swaps and no to a freeze.”

Alon rejected any talk of dividing Jerusalem.

“We didn’t return to Jerusalem after thousands of years of exile so that a Jordanian guard would inspect us at the entrance to the Western Wall,” he said.

The Palestinian Authority said yesterday that "any peace plan that does not include an independent Palestinian state — with all of east Jerusalem as its capital — on the 1967 borders, is destined to fail”.

Nabil Abu Rudaineh, a spokesman for the PA president in Ramallah, said that the "rumours and leaks about the deal of the century, as well as ongoing attempts to find regional and international parties that would co-operate with this plan, are failed attempts that will reach a deadend”.

Any proposals pertaining to the political process, he added, should be based on international resolutions and the principle of a two-state solution.


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