On 28 January 2020, President Donald Trump announced his long awaited Middle East peace plan. The plan establishes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and looks to recognise Israeli settlements built on Palestinian territory. It also refuses the right of return to Palestinian refugees, whose homes were lost in previous conflicts. Palestinian leaders have rejected the proposal, with President Mahmoud Abbas responding with “1000 no’s to the deal of the century”.
In response to the proposal, the Palestinian Authority threatened to sever ties with Israeli security and called for mass demonstrations against the deal. The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation has rejected Trump’s proposal, claiming “It does not meet the minimum rights and aspirations of Palestinian people.” Jordan’s foreign minister reaffirmed his country’s support for a Palestinian state to be based on pre-1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital. He warned against “the dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures, such as annexation of Palestinian lands.”
As with many decisions concerning Trump, Israel and the future of Palestine, the Palestinians were not consulted. Ignored and pushed aside, angered Palestinians took to the streets as part of a “day of rage,” called upon by political factions. The European Union expressed little support over the plan, stating that it doesn’t meet “internationally agreed parameters” regarding where Israel’s borders should be drawn. David Makovsky, a previous member of the U.S. Secretary of State’s Middle East negotiating team, states that Trump’s plan “reaffirms the worst fears that this is more an annexation plan than a peace plan.”
In 2017, President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. international policy by unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Subsequently, the U.S. embassy moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, sealing its position. The decision has put the position of the U.S. as an impartial mediator in scrutiny. It publicly goes against the U.S. initiated Oslo accords, which states that a decision on the status of Jerusalem is to be made during final peace talks. Since Trump’s 2017 announcement, the U.S. has subsequently broken off aid for Palestinians and for the UN agency supporting Palestinian refugees.
The key issues at stake when discussing a two-state solution include the status of Jerusalem and settlements. Both Israel and Palestine hold competing titles to the city, requiring it as the future capital of their states. Trump’s plan recognises Israel as the undivided capital of Israel. As for the latter, Israel has built at least 140 settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, as well as 121 outpost settlements. Palestinians require these settlements to be removed in order for a Palestinian state to be feasible. However, Trump’s plan states that no Israeli will be moved from their homes, insinuating that the settlements will remain.
President Trump has continuously expressed unfair and biased treatment toward Palestinians for the duration of his time in office. His supposed deal of the century has been utterly rejected by the Palestinians. It does not meet the required criteria for a future Palestinian state, as it was constructed without consulting the Palestinians. Both Palestinians and Israelis have been hurt during clashes in the West Bank since the proposal was announced. While the Palestinians have every right to protest, it is crucial violence does not overshadow their cause.