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Palestinians Give '1,000' No's to 'Deal of the Century', but These Arab Countries Are Hopeful

01-29-2020
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Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Photo, AP

JERUSALEM, Israel – Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has outright rejected President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian “Deal of the Century,” calling it “the slap of the century.”

“We say 1,000 no's to the Deal of the Century," Abbas said. “We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” he continued, adding that the Palestinians would oppose the plan through “peaceful, popular means.”

Thousands of Palestinians protested in Gaza City ahead of the peace plan announcement ceremony on Tuesday. They burned pictures of Trump and Netanyahu and raised a banner reading “Palestine is not for sale.”

Iran echoed Abbas’ condemnation, saying the plan was the “treason of the century.” Turkey slammed the deal as “stillborn.”

Key Arab Countries Are Optimistic About the Plan

However, Sunni Arab nations surrounding Israel, like Egypt and Saudi Arabia, have issued cautiously positive statements about the plan. Egypt urged Israelis and Palestinians to study to the deal, and Saudi Arabia expressed support for continued negotiations between the two peoples.

The United Arab Emirates, which sent representatives to attend Trump’s announcement at the White House Tuesday, said it “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.”

“This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years. The only way to guarantee a lasting solution is to reach an agreement between all concerned parties. The UAE believes that Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community. The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework,” UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba said.

Fellow Gulf states Bahrain and Oman also sent delegates to attend the announcement.

Egypt and Jordan are the only two Arab countries that have official peace treaties with Israel, but Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg, who has met many of these Gulf leaders, believes they may chart their own course. 

“I’ve had conversations as you know with a lot of these folks.  I sense this is a question they’re really asking, ‘Should we be moving to full peace with Israel, even before the Palestinian issue is resolved, the way Egypt did in 1979 and the way Jordan did in 1994?” Rosenberg told CBN News.

Details of the Plan

Meanwhile, Trump is urging the Palestinians to accept the deal and sent a letter to Abbas.

“President Abbas, I want you to know, that if you chose the path to peace, America and many other countries ... we will be there to help you in so many different ways," he said. "And we will be there every step of the way,” Trump told a room of Israelis and supporters during his announcement ceremony.

The plan calls for Jerusalem to remain Israel’s undivided capital and supports Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria.

“The Israeli military will continue to control the entire territory,” Netanyahu said. “No one will be uprooted from their home.”

The deal also calls for the creation of a State of Palestine including the West Bank and Gaza with more than double the size territory that Palestinians hold today. Trump said the capital of this Palestinian state would be eastern Jerusalem and the US would open an embassy there.

Trump’s peace plan includes a map showing what a future Palestinian state would look like, but only if Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, renounce terrorism and stop paying convicted terrorists.

The deal heavily favors Israel and the only immediate concession the Trump administration asks Israel to make is to put a four-year freeze on settlement building. Netanyahu later clarified that this requirement only applied to areas where there are no settlement communities and Israel has no immediate plans to annex, and that he considered the plan to impose no limitations on construction. The plan also demands Israel to give up sovereign Israeli territory in the Negev at a later stage.

Jordan did not give an enthusiastic response to the plan, saying it remained committed to a two-state solution based on Israel's borders before the Six-Day War in 1967. It also said it rejected any unilateral move by Israel to annex territory, especially in the Jordan Valley.

Palestinians see the West Bank as the central location of a future independent Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital. They also want Palestinian refugees who left or were forced out of their homes during the war for Israel’s independence and millions of their descendants to be permitted to return to a future Palestinian state.

The plan does not address the Palestinian long-held desire for the “Right of Return.”

Trump’s peace plan has proven popular to many evangelicals, Israelis, and pro-Israel supporters.

However, the Palestinians refuse to even speak with Washington and are urging Arab countries to back them in condemning the “Deal of the Century.”

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