Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with no Palestinian representatives present, Trump affirmed his alliance with the Jewish state. “Israel is a light unto the world,” he said. “The hearts and history of our people are woven together.”
After speaking effusively and at length about what the plan would do for Israel, to many rounds of applause by administration officials and foreign ambassadors, Trump switched to its impact on Palestinians. “It is only reasonable that I also have to do a lot for the Palestinians, or it just wouldn’t be fair,” he said, adding, “Now don’t clap for that, OK? But it’s true, it wouldn’t be fair.”
The administration is billing the plan as a dramatic reshaping of the Palestinian territories that could offer a path to statehood if the Palestinians meet a set of requirements. But it was put together without input from Palestinians, and the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority Mohammad Shtayyeh has already called for international powers to boycott the plan. Thousands protested in Gaza on Tuesday ahead of the plan’s release.
The plan proposes to incorporate Israeli settlements in illegally occupied areas of Palestine into Israel proper, and give Israel security control over all territory seized from Palestinians in 1967; it won’t require Israel to move any of its settlements. It also gives Israelis control over a unified Jerusalem, as the capital of the Israeli state. The Trump administration also said that, as part of the agreement, Israel has agreed not to build any new settlements for four years while peace negotiations are underway.
The Palestinians are given some limited autonomy in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and a roadmap to statehood over several years if they renounce violence and agree to negotiate with Israel. Trump said his plan would establish a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and that the U.S. would open an embassy there.
But Palestinians have already voiced deep skepticism about how the plan benefits their overall position. The president of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, will hold an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership on Tuesday, and the Israeli military is bracing for protests with some Palestinian factions calling for a “day of rage” in response to the plan.
Trump and Netanyahu’s press conference took place against a bizarre backdrop — as the president’s defense team made final arguments in a Senate trial on whether he should be removed from office for abuse of power, and with Netanyahu just indicted on corruption charges in his own country.
The 50-page plan was largely developed by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, a real-estate mogul with no prior diplomatic experience. Kushner has taken a leading role in trying to break the impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, spending months working on what’s become known as the “deal of the century.”
Kushner’s plans got derailed in December 2017 when Palestinians walked away from the negotiating table following Trump’s decision to break with decades of U.S. policy and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The White House move sparked intense protests, culminating in the worst day of violence since the 2014 war when the U.S. opened its new embassy in Jerusalem.