(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL)
The Trump administration’s plan for peace in the Middle East may include US and international recognition of a Palestinian state and acceptance of East Jerusalem as its capital, the London-based Saudi newspaper Asharq al-Awsat reported on Wednesday.
The plan, the report said, calls for placing the Old City of Jerusalem under “international protection.”
The report quoted “knowledgeable Arab diplomatic sources” in Paris as saying that the US is planning to present its plan in the framework of an international conference that would be held in one of the Arab capitals, most likely Cairo, with Israelis in attendance.
However, the sources did not say when the US administration would come out with its plan, the details of which remain under wraps.
The report came following a meeting in Brussels earlier this week in which Arab foreign ministers and their European counterparts discussed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in wake of reports suggesting that US President Donald Trump’s administration would soon announce its plan for peace, which Trump has referred to as the “deal of the century.”
Arab media have published various accounts of the purported plan, which has already been rejected by the Palestinian Authority as a conspiracy aimed at liquidating the Palestinian cause. Some PA officials have referred to the plan as the “slap of the century” and argued that no Palestinian would ever accept it.
According to Wednesday’s report, the US plan requires the Palestinians to give up their demand for “right of return” for Palestinian refugees and their descendants to their former homes inside Israel.
In addition, large settlements would remain in place, while small ones would be “relocated,” the report said.
The US plan also calls for expanding the PA’s security and administrative authorities in areas A and B of the West Bank, the report added.
Washington is planning to collect $40 billion to help establish a Palestinian state and its government institutions, the sources told the newspaper. The money is not intended to “buy” Palestinian acceptance of the peace plan, they stressed.
The sources also claimed the plan allows Israel to retain security control over the borders with the West Bank, while responsibility for security of the Gaza Strip would be handed to the Egyptians.
Palestinian-US relations have been strained since Trump’s December announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announcing plans to relocate the embassy there. The announcement was met with worldwide condemnation, and outraged Palestinian officials said it disqualified Washington from playing any role in brokering Middle East peace due to its “bias” toward Israel.
Since then, the PA has refused all substantive contacts with the Trump administration, and top Palestinian officials have demanded the US president reverse the decision.
Later on Wednesday, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said that European Union countries were working to convince the Trump administration to modify parts of the plan.
The EU countries agreed to push for changes prior to the unveiling of the American plan, Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio according to the PA’s official Wafa news agency.
He did not indicate which European countries were pressing the White House to make changes to the plan.
Malki underscored that any future peace agreement must include articles expressing support for a two-state solution, the establishment of a Palestinian state on the so-called 1967 borders with its capital in East Jerusalem, and an end to Israeli settlement construction.