Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 19 August 2019

US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt says peace plan won't include Sinai transfer to Gaza

The Trump administration has kept details of the proposal under wraps for two years

Jason Greenblatt and Mahmoud Abbas hold talks in 2017, before the Palestinian leadership cut contacts with the US over its Jerusalem decision in December that year. Getty
Jason Greenblatt and Mahmoud Abbas hold talks in 2017, before the Palestinian leadership cut contacts with the US over its Jerusalem decision in December that year. Getty

The United States Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt has denied that Washington’s long-awaited peace plan will include a land transfer from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula to Gaza.

Speculation has mounted that the deal would give a portion of northern Egypt to Gaza, where a decade-long siege has crippled the economy and livelihoods of more than two million people.

“Hearing reports our plan includes the concept that we will give a portion of Sinai (which is Egypt’s) to Gaza. False!” tweeted Mr Greenblatt.

“Please don’t believe everything you read. Surprising & sad to see how people who don’t know what’s in the plan make up & spread fake stories.”

Details of the deal, which US President Donald Trump has said will end the decades-long conflict, have been closely guarded for two years. Palestinians have cut off all public contacts with Washington over its relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem and have expressed skepticism that a deal even exists.

Israel seized the Sinai from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War but returned it in a peace deal with Cairo in 1979.

The area has been wracked by an extremist insurgency led by an ISIS offshoot that has killed hundreds in recent years.

Any deal released by the Trump administration will not be released until the new Israeli government is sworn in. It is expected to be rolled out after June 5 when the Islamic holy month of Ramadan ends.

The proposal is not expected to offer full Palestinian statehood. The new Palestinian prime minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh, said last week that the deal will be “born dead”.

Officials in Ramallah expect the proposal to be one-sided in favour of Israel, primarily taking into account the concerns of the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over those of the Palestinian Authority, the body led by Mahmoud Abbas that operates limited self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinians have courted the international community in a bid to have a mediated and negotiated settlement to the conflict, but Israel maintains that any peace deal should be bilateral and not include other states. The last round of US-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.

Updated: April 21, 2019 07:37 AM

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