Trump to unveil peace plan Tuesday despite Palestinian rejections

Washington -By Ofira Koopmans and Eliyahu Kamisher, - US President Donald Trump said Monday that he will unveil a long-awaited Middle East peace plan on Tuesday, despite Palestinian leaders having already rejected the plan as a "plot" to dash their statehood aspirations.

The president held separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his centre-right political rival Benny Gantz at the White House on Monday to discuss the plan, which has been three years in the making.

"We are going to show a plan. We'll see whether or not it catches hold," Trump said from the White House. "If it does, that would be great, and if it doesn't we can live with that, too."

Palestinians have already rejected Trump's role as a negotiator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying his series of decidedly pro-Israel moves has disqualified the US from a role in ending the conflict.
Trump has upended decades of US policy towards the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by moving the US embassy to the contested city of Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli claims to the Golan Heights, territory considered by the international community to be occupied.
Palestinian Prime Minister Muhammad Shtayyeh on Tuesday called the plan a "plot to liquidate the Palestinian cause." 
"This plan is intended to protect Trump from impeachment and Netanyahu from prison on corruption charges," Shtayyeh said at his weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah.
Critics charge that the timing of the unveiling - ahead of March 2 Israeli elections and as Israel's parliament is scheduled to debate Netanyahu's request for immunity against corruption charges on Tuesday - amounted to US meddling in internal Israeli politics in favour of Netanyahu.
Gantz - who is opposing Netanyahu in the elections - is scheduled to fly back to Israel on Monday, so he can be present for Tuesday's Knesset vote on the establishment of a committee to discuss Netanyahu's immunity request.
Meanwhile, Tuesday's announcement coincides with an impeachment trial of Trump in the Senate.
Palestinians fear the plan will recognize Israeli claims to parts of the West Bank, which they want for their future state.
The West Bank was captured by Israeli in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and is considered by most of the international community to be occupied territory.
Speaking from the White House Trump said his plan is "overly good" to the Palestinians.
"It's to them," Trump said. "Without [the Palestinians] we don't do a deal, and that's OK, they are not living well." 
Netanyahu called the plan the "deal of the century," adding: "We're not going to pass it by." 
Leaks published in the Israeli press describe the plan as in line with right-wing Israeli positions.
According to the leaks, Palestinians would receive a Palestinian state but on far smaller parts of the occupied West Bank than offered to them during previous US administrations - and without East Jerusalem as their capital.
Israel's West Bank settlement blocs would receive US recognition.
Khaled Elgindy, an expert at the Washington-based Middle East Institute, said the plan aims to "bury" prospects of a two-state solution, which would establish an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in most of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Trump's invitation of both Netanyahu and Gantz as the leaders of Israel's two largest parties is seen as exceptional, and as an attempt to appear impartial ahead of the March 2 vote, in which the Likud and Blue and White face off an unprecedented third time within one year.
Two previous elections in April and September resulted in a stalemate between the Netanyahu-led bloc of right-wing and religious parties and the bloc of centre-left and Arab parties.


Monday, January 27th 2020
By Ofira Koopmans and Eliyahu Kamisher,

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