News Digest — 1/29/20

The ‘Deal Of The Century’: What Are Its Key Points? – Lahav Harkov and Herb Keinon

Three years in the making, the ‘Deal of the Century,’ Donald Trump’s peace plan, has finally been revealed.

Borders: Trump’s plan features a map of what Israel’s new borders will be, should it enact the plan fully.  Israel will retain 20% of the West Bank and will lose a small amount of land in the Negev near the Gaza-Egypt border.  The Palestinians will have a pathway to a state in the vast majority of the territory in the West Bank, while Israel will maintain control of all borders.  This is the first time a US president has provided a detailed map of this kind.

Jerusalem: The Palestinians will have a capital in east Jerusalem based on northern and eastern neighborhoods that are outside the Israeli security barrier – Kfar Akab, Abu Dis and half of Shuafat.  Otherwise, Trump said Jerusalem will remain undivided as Israel’s capital.

Settlements: Israel will retain the Jordan Valley and all Israeli settlements in the West Bank in the broadest definition possible, meaning not the municipal borders of each settlement but their security perimeters.  This also includes 15 isolated settlements, which will be enclaves within an eventual Palestinian state. Within those settlements, Israel will not be able to build for the next four years. The IDF will have access to the isolated settlements.  For the settlement part of the plan to go into effect, Israel will have to take action to apply sovereignty to the settlements, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he plans to do at the upcoming cabinet meeting on Sunday (2/2).

Security: Israel will be in control of security from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.  The IDF will not have to leave the West Bank. No change to Israel’s approach to Judea and Samaria would be needed.

Palestinian state: The plan does not include immediate recognition of a Palestinian state, rather, it expects a willingness on Israel’s part to create a pathway toward Palestinian statehood based on specific territory, which is about 70% of Judea and Samaria, including areas A and B and parts of Area C.  The state will only come into existence in four years if the Palestinians accept the plan, if the Palestinian Authority stops paying terrorists and inciting terrorism and if Hamas and Islamic Jihad put down their weapons. In addition, the American plan calls on the Palestinians to give up corruption, respect human rights, freedom of religion and a free press, so that they don’t have a failed state, and implement a massive economic plan to assist it.

Refugees: A limited number of Palestinian refugees and their descendants will be allowed into the Palestinian state.  None will enter Israel.

Triangle: The plan leaves open the possibility that Israel will swap the area known as the “Triangle” – consisting of Kfar Kara, Arara, Baka al-Gharbiya, Umm el-Fahm and more – into the future Palestinian state.  According to the plan, “the vision contemplates the possibility, subject to agreement of the parties, that the borders of Israel will be redrawn in such a way that the Triangle Communities become part of the state of Palestine.”



Rivals Hamas, PA Held ‘Emergency’ Meeting To Strategize Against Trump Plan

In a call for unity on the eve of President Trump’s Mideast peace plan, the leaders of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas decided to hold a meeting on Tuesday (28th) in Ramallah to discuss a united strategy in response.

“We invited the Hamas movement to attend the emergency meeting of the leadership and they took part in it,” senior Palestinian official Azzam al-Ahmed said.

“At the meeting Tuesday (28th), leaders discussed the position that must be taken against Trump’s plan,” Hamas official Nasser al-Din al-Shaar said. 

Relations between the Palestinian factions have been strained ever since 2007 when Hamas overthrew the PA in Gaza.  Sporadic efforts to reconcile their differences have unsuccessfully been attempted over the years, but in more recent times, it is believed that Abbas “seldom communicated” with senior Hamas leaders.

Palestinian protests against the “peace plan” are scheduled to take place in the Jordan Valley, Gaza, and Judea and Samaria on Wednesday (29th) with all Palestinian factions participating.

On Monday (27th), PA leader Mahmoud Abbas held a closed meeting with his Fatah leadership.

“Trump is a dog and the son of a dog,” Al Mayadeen  TV quoted Abbas as saying,  “He wants to force a plan on us that we don’t want.  I was told I’d pay a heavy price for my behavior, but I do not have much longer to live and I will not go down as a traitor,” said Abbas.  “It’s either dying like a martyr or flying the Palestinian flag on the walls of Jerusalem,” he added.



Similar To Arafat, Abbas Is Choosing To Play With Fire – Oded Granet

Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas didn’t even wait 24 hours for the unveiling of the Trump peace plan before angrily flipping over the proverbial table.  According to leaks from a closed-door meeting with Fatah officials, Abbas ordered the PA’s security apparatuses to no longer prevent Palestinian youths from clashing with Israeli security forces, adding: “What we need now is an escalation.”  

If the reports are accurate, this is a call for a third intifada.  The man, who for years sought to separate himself from Yasser Arafat, while telling everyone that the path of violence and terror is not his path, because it is ineffective and damaging to the Palestinian people, has changed his tune and is now following in his predecessor’s footsteps.

Abbas rejected Trump’s plan before seeing it, which puts him on the same footing as his predecessor Arafat as a peace obstructionist who would rather go down in history as refusing to give an inch over ending the bloody conflict between the Palestinians and Israel through a fair compromise. 

Abbas has erred many times throughout his tenure and will err far more egregiously if he now starts playing with fire.  He knows better than anyone – as he has argued persuasively in the past – that choosing the path of terror won’t get the Palestinians anywhere.



Silence Speaks Louder Than Words As Arab Leaders Signal PA Has Exhausted Their Patience

The most prominent event in the Middle East in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the roll-out of his regional peace plan was the relative silence that followed.  The Palestinians, as expected were quick to protest, but others in the Arab world, at least for now, have said nothing.

One would expect the ‘Deal of the Century’ which pulls the rug from under the traditional Arab demand for the establishment of a Palestinian state over the entire West Bank with east Jerusalem as its capital, would rattle the Arab world to its core, send the masses to protest in the streets, and earn condemnation and threats from Arab leaders far and wide; if they, ostensibly are still committed to the Arab peace plan from 20 years ago. 

But none of that happened.

There is cumulative fatigue in the Arab world, from the prolonged Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the deep frustration and the severe internal rift between Palestinian factions Fatah and Hamas, and Mahmoud Abbas’ unwillingness to come to the negotiating table with the Israelis.

Also, the Saudis and the Gulf neighbors are growing exceedingly tired of being held hostage by the regional conflict with respect to normalizing relations with Israel.  As of Sunday (26th) Israelis can now travel to Saudi Arabia for religious or business purposes.

In fact, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar, and the UAE on Tuesday (28th) issued statements welcoming the Trump administration’s peace plan.



Rivlin Addresses German Parliament In Memory Of Nazi Victims

Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin addressed the German parliament known as the Bundestag, on Wednesday morning (29th).

Speaking at a special session in memory of the victims of Nazism, the president’s speech marked the culmination of a week of Holocaust  remembrance services. Rivlin also spoke at the Fifth Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem last week, and addressed Holocaust survivors at a commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau on Monday (27th).

Rivlin also visited a Jewish school in Berlin on Tuesday (28th) alongside German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.  At the Moses Mendelssohn Jewish High School, Rivlin told school children that building connections between different people from all over the world was the “most important thing” in order to build an inclusive society.