Trump unveils Mideast plan after Netanyahu indicted
Saudi Arabia’s King, Salman Bin Abdulaziz, talked via the phone late Tuesday with the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, assuring him of the kingdom’s “steadfast stance on the Palestinian issue and the rights of the Palestinian people,” Saudi Press Agency [SPA] reported.
Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement on Tuesday in response to the U.S. Administration's announcement of the Middle East peace plan. The statement said that Kingdom of Saudi Arabia reaffirms its support for all efforts aimed to reach a “comprehensive resolution to the Palestinian cause.”
Saudi Arabia “appreciates the efforts of President Trump's Administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan” urging both sides to start peace negotiations under the auspices of the US and to address any differences on any aspects of the plan through negotiations, statement added.
We're wrapping up live coverage for today. You can find more on Trump's Middle East plan here.
The White House has on Tuesday unveiled its long awaited plan for the Middle East.
Dubbed "the Deal of the Century" by President Donald Trump -- and "the Slap of the Century" by the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas -- the deal envisions a two-state solution with a united Jerusalem under Israeli control.
Here are its key points:
- All Israeli settlements in the West Bank will be annexed to Israel. (Trump says the deal’s division of territory does not require anyone to move.)
- In addition, the Jordan Valley, which Israel says is critical for its security, to also be under Israeli sovereignty.
- Jerusalem is to be the “undivided” capital of Israel.
- Religious sites to remain accessible to all faiths. The Temple Mount, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, a key religious site in Jerusalem, to remain under Jordan’s custodianship.
- The capital of the future State of Palestine to be in an area located immediately east and north of the wall that surrounds part of Jerusalem. It could be named al-Quds or any other name as determined by the future State of Palestine.
- Hamas is to be disarmed and Gaza and the entire future Palestinian State to be demilitarized.
- Creation of “a high-speed transportation link” between the West Bank and Gaza, “crossing over or under the State of Israel’s sovereign territory.”
- Requirement that both sides recognize the State of Palestine as the nation state of the Palestinian people and the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people.
- Israel is not to build any new settlements on areas that are not envisioned to be its sovereign territory under the plan for four years.
The White House’s vision for Middle East peace appears to upset one of the fundamental aspects of the status quo, by opening up the holiest site in Jerusalem to prayer of all faiths.
Until now, prayer at the site, known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, was allowed only to Muslims. Jews and Christians could visit the site as tourists, but they were barred from praying at the site.
The White House plan appears to propose opening up prayer to Jews and Christians, which has been a call of religious, right-wing leaders for years.
The plan starts out by saying, “In particular, the status quo at the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif should continue uninterrupted.”
But then it goes on immediately to say:
Jerusalem’s holy sites should remain open and available for peaceful worshippers and tourists of all faiths. People of every faith should be permitted to pray on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif, in a matter that is fully respectful to their religion, taking into account the times of each religion’s prayers and holidays, as well as other religious factors.
Israel’s opposition Blue and White party, led by Benny Gantz, has endorsed President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan, but said that it should be led by someone who is not facing serious criminal charges -- a reference to the indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just hours before the announcement of the plan.
"President Trump’s Peace Plan provides a strong, viable basis for advancing a peace accord with the Palestinians, while preserving the existing arrangements between Israel and Jordan and Egypt, and enabling their expansion to additional countries in the region,” the party said in a statement Tuesday night.
"In order for implementation to be possible, Israel must move forward toward a strong and stable government, led by an individual who can direct the fullness of his time and energy toward ensuring the country’s security and its future, rather than by a defendant facing serious charges of bribery, who would be entirely steeped in his personal and legal interests."
Jared Kushner has told CNN's Christiane Amanpour that he doesn't think Israel will start imposing its law on the territories assigned to it by the plan.
That goes against what the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier. According to a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office, Israel will apply the first stage of Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank on Sunday.
The United Nations has poured some cold water on the plan announced by the White House.
In a statement, the organization said the position of the United Nations on the two-State solution "has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound."
The United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements and realizing the vision of two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines.
In contrast, the Trump plan states that "the State of Israel and the United States do not believe the State of Israel is legally bound to provide the Palestinians with 100 percent of pre-1967 territory (a belief that is consistent with United Nations Security Council Resolution 242)."
The United Arab Emirates offered what appears to be -- so far -- the most concrete endorsement of Trump's plan by any Arab nation.
“The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework,” the UAE's ambassador the US Yousef Al Otaiba said in a statement.
In contrast to statements from Israel’s neighbors Jordan and Egypt, the initial UAE statement does not reference a two-state solution. The statement said:
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.
Egypt has reacted by insisting that any deal must respect the "full legitimate rights" of the Palestinian people. Egypt's Foreign Ministry said in a statement:
Egypt calls upon the two parties concerned to study exhaustively the American vision for achieving peace, taking into account all its dimensions, and open channels of dialogue to resume negotiations under US auspices, to put forward the vision of the Palestinian and Israeli parties towards it, in order to reach an agreement that meets the aspirations and hopes of the two peoples in achieving a comprehensive and just peace between them.
And leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.