Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 25 May 2020

Trump Middle East peace plan 'a starting point', says UAE

Ambassador to US, Yousef Al Otaiba, calls plan 'a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years'

The UAE’s ambassador to the US said President Donald Trump’s plan to solve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict on Tuesday was a "starting point", but warned the only way to guarantee a lasting solution to the conflict was to reach an agreement between all parties.

Mr Trump on Tuesday unveiled the long-delayed political part of the plan to solve the conflict, saying that Jerusalem would remain Israel's "undivided capital".

The 180-page plan would “more than double” the size of Palestinian territory in occupied East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, while meeting Israel’s security requirements, Mr Trump said.

But the Palestinians have rejected the plan as it appeared to favour Israel, and they have not engaged with the Trump administration since it declared Jerusalem the Israeli capital in December 2017.

In a statement on Tuesday night after the plan was announced in Washington, the UAE’s ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, said: “The United Arab Emirates appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.

"This plan is a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech following the announcement by the U.S. President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he delivers a speech following the announcement by the U.S. President Donald Trump of the Mideast peace plan, in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta

“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.

"The plan announced today offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”

Bahrain said on Wednesday that it supports a "just and comprehensive" solution to the Palestinian issue that results in the "reimposition of Palestinian rights".

Qatar responded cautiously, saying it welcomed efforts to broker "longstanding peace" but warned that was unattainable without concessions to the Palestinians.

“The announcement of the deal indicates an infringement of the legitimate rights of Palestinians,” Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said in a statement.

The 180-page plan was rejected by Palestinian officials before and after it was published.

“A just and sustainable peace cannot be achieved by ignoring the reality of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories since 1967 or by working to legalise this occupation," Mr Aboul Gheit said.

Palestinian President Mahmood Abbas called for unity between all Palestinians, and said “we will not kneel and we will not surrender”.

“Jerusalem is not for sale,” Mr Mahmood said.

Mr Trump asserted that Jerusalem would remain Israel's "undivided capital".

Egypt is a main player in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It controls part of the Gaza Strip’s border and it has repeatedly been the country that brokers ceasefires between the Palestinians and Israelis.

Cairo was more cautious about the proposals, urging Israel and the Palestinians to carefully study it and hold talks with US mediation.

In a statement published on its Facebook account, the Egyptian Foreign Ministry said it "appreciates the continuous efforts exerted by the US administration to achieve a comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue".

It urged the two sides to hold talks to find a solution "that satisfies the aspirations of both peoples to achieve a comprehensive and just peace", and sets the stage for the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

Jordan also agreed that peace was contingent on the establishment of such a state, based on land captured by Israel in a 1967 war, and with East Jerusalem as its capital.

"Jordan supports every genuine effort aimed at achieving just and comprehensive peace that people will accept," Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said.

The minister called for serious and direct negotiations that solve all final status issues, including protection of Jordan's international interests.

But he warned against the "dangerous consequences of unilateral Israeli measures that aim to impose new realities on the ground".

Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah group rejected Mr Trump’s plan, saying it would destroy Palestinians’ rights.

The group, which is designated as a terrorist group by Israel and the US, accused Arab countries of being complicit in a "deal of shame" that bodes ill for the region.

Hezbollah, which helped to form Lebanon's new government, said the most dangerous element of Mr Trump's vision for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict was the naturalisation of Palestinian refugees in Arab states.

“Hezbollah’s view is that the satanic American administration crowned the Israeli aggression today by trying to eliminate the historical and legitimate rights of the Palestinian people after decades of supporting the enemy, its occupation, its aggression and massacres against the Arab peoples," it said in a statement.

"The settlement project under this deal is one of the biggest dangers and aims to do away with the right of return, and to create social and demographic tension and sedition that only serve the enemy's interests and expansionist goals."

Turkey, a strong advocate for the Palestinian cause, slammed the proposal, calling it an “annexation plan” intended to destroy hopes for a two-state solution.

"The United States' so-called peace plan is stillborn," Turkey's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"This is an annexation plan aimed at killing a two-state solution and extorting the Palestinian territory. Palestinian people and their land cannot be bought for money."

Turkey said Mr Trump’s move of legitimising Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” was Ankara's "red line".

"We will not allow any step that will legitimise Israel's occupation and persecution," the ministry said.

"We will always stand by brotherly Palestinian people. We will work for an independent Palestine in the Palestinian territory.

"We will not support any plan that is not accepted by Palestine. There will be no peace in the Middle East without an end to the occupation policies."

Updated: January 29, 2020 07:34 PM

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