Politics

Trump's Middle East peace plan calls for two states, with Palestinian capital in east Jerusalem

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump's long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for a state of Palestine with a capital in east Jerusalem, he said during an event Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
  • The plan calls for the recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for a four-year freeze on new settlement activity. It will double the territory under the control of the Palestinians, Trump said.
  • Palestinian leaders have refused to engage with the White House and are not expected to accept the deal.
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President Trump's Middle East plan calls for a two-state solution

President Donald Trump's long-awaited Middle East peace plan calls for a state of Palestine with a capital in east Jerusalem, he said during an event Tuesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The plan calls for the recognition of Israeli settlements in the West Bank in exchange for a four-year freeze on new settlement activity. It will double the territory under the control of the Palestinians, Trump said. 

The president also said that the U.S. will "proudly" open an embassy in the new Palestinian capital. He claimed that the plan would lead to $50 billion in new commercial investment in Palestine and that "if executed well" it could create 1 million new Palestinian jobs.

The proposal favors Israel and was immediately rejected by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

"After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand no's to the Deal of The Century," Abbas said, according to the Associated Press. 

Palestinians have cited Trump policies such as moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem as evidence of pro-Israel bias that prevents the administration from being a neutral party in negotiations.

Dampening the plan's chances further, the foreign minister of Jordan, Israel's neighbor to the east, on Tuesday rejected the proposed recognition of Israeli settlements.

Trump had suggested during the news conference that Jordan's King Abdullah II would play a key role in aspects of the peace plan related to maintaining Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, but that now appears unlikely.

Despite the deal's long odds of success, Trump suggested that the peace plan marked a historic step forward.

"This is an unprecedented and highly significant development," Trump said Tuesday during the news conference with Netanyahu. "Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for having the courage to take this big step forward."

Trump video clip

Trump has been more friendly to Israel than previous U.S. presidents. The administration reversed decades of American foreign policy in November when it declared that it did not consider Israel's settlements in the West Bank to violate international law, contradicting the conclusions of international bodies such as the United Nations.

The Israeli side welcomed the deal. Netanyahu, speaking alongside Trump, called the peace plan "exceptional" and a "realistic path to a durable peace."

"This is a historic day. And it recalls another historic day," Netanyahu said. "We remember May 14, 1948, because on that day, President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the state of Israel."

Netanyahu's spokesperson said later in the day that the prime minister would move forward with a vote on annexing parts of the West Bank covered in the peace plan as soon as Sunday. 

The high-profile meeting between Trump and Netanyahu was seen as an effort to shore up Netanyahu's electoral prospects as he competes against rival Benny Gantz for reelection in a contest scheduled for early March. Gantz also met with Trump at the White House this week.

The visit also came as Netanyahu faces legal troubles at home. The prime minister was formally indicted earlier Tuesday on bribery and corruption charges brought by Israel's attorney general, Avichai Mandelblit. Netanyahu has denied wrongdoing.

Trump has promised to broker a peace deal in the Middle East since the first days of his administration, and assigned his son-in-law, White House senior advisor Jared Kushner, to oversee it.

An economic portion of the peace plan was released in June. Abbas dismissed that plan at the time as well.