Palestinians withdraw on US Mideast plan
The Palestinians have abandoned their request for a vote at the UN Security Council on 11 February 2020 on rejecting the US Mideast plan, over a lack of international support. Introduced by Indonesia and Tunisia, the resolution risked not having nine out of 15 votes in its favor, the minimum required for adoption provided there is no veto by a permanent member. Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas is set to take part on 11 February 2020 in a session on President Donald Trump's January 28 plan, which paves the way for Israeli annexation of much of the West Bank but also allows for a demilitarised Palestinian state.
- The sudden Palestinian withdrawal of their request came after the United States -- which enjoys veto power as a permanent member -- proposed a series of amendments that could come for a vote at the session attended by Abbas.
- In proposals, the United States would significantly alter the text to remove references to 1967 lines being the basis of peace.
- It would also cut out a line stating that Jewish settlements built in the West Bank since 1967 are illegal, a position taken by virtually every country except the US and Israel.
- The United States is also seeking to eliminate language that equated East Jerusalem with the occupied West Bank.
- The Trump plan calls for recognition of the contested holy city as Israel's undivided capital, while establishing a Palestinian capital on its outskirts.
- While recognizing that the Trump plan "departs from the internationally endorsed terms of reference and parameters," the US wants the resolution to state that the Security Council "welcomes discussion on this proposal to advance the cause of peace."
- The draft no longer called for an international conference on the Middle East “at the earliest possible date,” instead, replacing that language with a reminder that such a call was made in a 2008 UN resolution.
- It also added a line “condemning all acts of violence against civilians, including acts of terror, as well as all acts of provocation, incitement and destruction.”
- It still condemned Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and reaffirms the need to preserve the boundary lines from 1967.
What’s the plan?
- The Trump plan seeks to address most of the contentious issues in the conflict such as the border of Israel, status of Palestinian refugees, Jewish settlements on the West Bank, land swap between Israel and Palestine, Israel’s security concerns and the status of the city of Jerusalem.
- However, the solutions Mr. Trump has proposed to almost all of these issues favour the Israeli positions.
- For example, Israel would be allowed to annex the Jewish settlements on the West Bank as well as the Jordan Valley.
- The Palestinian refugees, who were forced out from their homes during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war that followed the declaration of the state of Israel in the historic Palestine, would not be allowed to return.
- They could move to the future Palestinian state, be integrated into the host countries or settled in other regional countries.
- Jerusalem, perhaps the most contentious issue, would be “the undivided capital” of Israel, with Palestine gaining its capital in the east of the city — beyond the security border Israel has already built.
- In return, Israel would freeze further settlement activities on the West Bank for four years — the time for negotiations. During this period, the Palestinian Authority should dismiss its current complaints at the International Criminal Court against Israel and refrain itself from taking further actions.
- It should also crack down on “terrorist” groups such as Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. Mr. Trump has also proposed $50 billion in investment over 10 years should Palestine accept the proposals.
- In the final settlement, Palestine would get control over more land than what it currently controls (According to the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three areas and only one of them is under the direct control of the Palestinian Authority).
- The plan proposes some land swap for the Israeli annexation of the West Bank Jewish settlements. It seeks to enlarge Gaza and connect the strip with the West Bank through a tunnel.
- The Arab towns in the southeast of Israel, which are close to Gaza, could become part of a future Palestinian state.