President Trump Unveils Mideast Peace Plan
US President Donald Trump has unveiled his long-delayed Middle East peace plan, which envisions Israel maintaining sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem and the application thereof to large swaths of the West Bank. The plan, while calling for the creation of an independent Palestinian state, conditions this eventuality on the recognition of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people and on the disarmament of Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. President Trump, flanked by Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House, hailed the proposal as the “most serious, realistic and detailed plan ever presented, one that could make Israelis, Palestinians and the region safer and more prosperous.” For his part, Netanyahu vowed to “negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis on your [President Trump’s] peace plan. … You [President Trump] are the first US leader to recognize the importance of areas in Judea and Samaria [the biblical terms for the areas encompassing the West Bank] vital to Israel’s national security.” The peace plan itself “contemplates a Palestinian state that encompasses territory reasonably comparable in size to the territory of the West Bank and Gaza pre-1967,” that is, prior to Israel’s capture of those regions from Jordan and Egypt, respectively, in a defensive war. Netanyahu left no room for interpretation in announcing that his cabinet would vote on Sunday to annex all “areas that [the peace] plan designates as part of Israel and which the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel.” In Ramallah, following an emergency meeting attended by members of Hamas, the Palestinian Authority officially rejected the proposal and called for mass protests in the West Bank in a bid to thwart the US initiative.