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Westlake Legal Group > Palestinians

What You Need to Know About Trump’s Middle East Plan

President Trump stood alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday to reveal a long-awaited plan intended to resolve generations of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Noticeably absent from that announcement, though, was any Palestinian representation, and Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the plan. The proposed settlement strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than having both sides make significant concessions.

Mr. Trump vowed at the start of his presidency that he would negotiate a “bigger and better deal” to broker peace than anyone could imagine. Three years later, experts say that the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, falls remarkably short of that goal and is unlikely ever to become the basis for a peace agreement.

Here are some of the plan’s main features.

While Mr. Trump’s proposal is the latest in a series of United States-brokered attempts to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians, his framework was a sharp departure from decades of American policy. The United States has long voiced support for the creation of a Palestinian state with only slight adjustments to the Israeli boundaries that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel wrested the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt.

Instead, the 181-page Trump plan proposes a West Bank riddled with interconnected chunks of Israeli territory containing Jewish settlements, many of them largely encircled by Palestinian lands. For the Palestinians, it would mean giving up a claim to large amounts of West Bank land — including places where Israel has built settlements over the past half-century and strategic areas along the Jordanian border. Most of the world regards the settlements as illegal.

The framework also sets aside the longtime goal of a fully autonomous Palestinian state. Instead, Mr. Trump vaguely promised that Palestinians could “achieve an independent state of their very own” but gave few details, while Mr. Netanyahu said the deal provided a “pathway to a Palestinian state” with significant caveats.

The Palestinians do not subscribe to the plan, though the deal provides for a four-year window for them to engage in renewed settlement talks. During that time, Israel would refrain from constructing settlements in those parts of the West Bank that the plan has designated for Palestinians.

Previous American proposals spoke of uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from the settlements to return those areas to the Palestinians for inclusion in their state, but the Trump plan promises to leave both settlers and Palestinians in their current homes. Rather, it maps out a series of linked settlements and other areas that would officially become Israeli territory in the midst of the West Bank.

Trump’s Proposal for a Palestinian State

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-300 What You Need to Know About Trump's Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

State of

Palestine

Israeli

enclaves

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-460 What You Need to Know About Trump's Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

Mediterranean

Sea

Mediterranean

Sea

State of Palestine

Israeli enclaves

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-600 What You Need to Know About Trump's Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

Mediterranean

Sea

Mediterranean

Sea

State of Palestine

Israeli enclaves

Note: Boundaries are approximate and based on available data provided by the White House, some of which was obscured.

Source: White House

By The New York Times

The plan also envisaged a Palestinian capital in “eastern Jerusalem,” on the outer edges of the city beyond Israel’s security barrier, while guaranteeing Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. The city is a holy site for the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has long been a sticking point in peace negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu later clarified that the proposed Palestinian capital would be in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village on the outskirts of the holy city.

The plan proposes transportation links between the unconnected Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But the element of the plan that may prove to be its only lasting effect is American recognition of Israel’s claim over the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The proposal gives American approval to Israel’s plan to redefine the country’s borders and formally annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley that it has long sought to control.

That would leave the West Bank portion of any potential Palestinian state surrounded on all sides by Israel. Israeli forces seized the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 war, and Israeli settlements have steadily encroached on the region over the decades since, a move largely condemned internationally.

Mr. Netanyahu caused controversy in September when he vowed, while running for re-election, to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategically critical chunk of the occupied West Bank nestled against the border with Jordan. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he saw President Trump’s plan as giving legitimacy to claiming Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley as Israeli territory.

“For too long, the very heart of the land of Israel where our patriots prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as ‘illegally occupied territory,’” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Well today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.”

Mr. Netanyahu said that his cabinet could move within days to assert sovereignty over those areas, but the decision could be subject to legal challenges because the current government is an interim administration.

Despite Mr. Trump’s assertion that the deal was “a win-win opportunity” for both sides, Palestinians have largely rejected it.

Mahmoud Abbas, the 84-year-old leader of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the plan in a speech on Tuesday evening, calling it a “conspiracy” not worthy of serious consideration.

“We say a thousand times over: no, no, no,” Mr. Abbas said, speaking from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership cut off communication with the Trump administration in 2017 after Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moved the American Embassy to the city. On the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, protests against the plan broke out on Tuesday.

The reaction from other Arab governments has been mixed. None of the United States’ Arab allies have formally endorsed the plan or committed to ushering it into reality, though ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement.

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, said in a call with reporters after the plan was announced that the big reveal was timed in a “nonpolitical way.”

He said that the plan was “fully baked” before an Israeli election last April but that American officials had held off introducing it then. When that election produced no government, the United States again postponed any announcement until after a second election in September, he said.

Now, as Israel approaches a third election in less than a year, which could also fail to produce a government, Mr. Friedman said that the time had been right to introduce the proposal. He noted that American officials had also discussed the plans with Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party and Mr. Netanyahu’s main rival in the March 2 election.

But experts say that the timing of the rollout has more to do with the domestic politics of the United States and Israel than with resolving the conflict, with Mr. Trump facing an impeachment trial and Mr. Netanyahu facing trial on corruption charges.

William F. Wechsler, director of Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research organization, said in an emailed statement that the plan was unlikely to have a major impact in the short term.

“The announcement’s chosen timing, specific staging, limited participants, and indeed its substance make clear that it has less to do with a good-faith effort to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Wechsler said, “and more to do with the immediate legal and electoral challenges that confront both leaders.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

What to Know About Trump’s Middle East Plan

President Trump stood alongside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday to reveal a long-awaited plan intended to resolve generations of conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

Noticeably absent from that announcement, though, was any Palestinian representation, and Palestinian leaders have flatly rejected the plan. The proposed settlement strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than having both sides make significant concessions.

Mr. Trump vowed at the start of his presidency that he would negotiate a “bigger and better deal” to broker peace than anyone could imagine. Three years later, experts say that the plan, developed under the supervision of Jared Kushner, Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, falls remarkably short of that goal and is unlikely ever to become the basis for a peace agreement.

Here are some of the plan’s main features.

While Mr. Trump’s proposal is the latest in a series of United States-brokered attempts to forge peace between Israelis and Palestinians, his framework was a sharp departure from decades of American policy. The United States has long voiced support for the creation of a Palestinian state with only slight adjustments to the Israeli boundaries that existed before the Arab-Israeli war of 1967, when Israel wrested the West Bank from Jordan, and Gaza from Egypt.

Instead, the 181-page Trump plan proposes a West Bank riddled with interconnected chunks of Israeli territory containing Jewish settlements, many of them largely encircled by Palestinian lands. For the Palestinians, it would mean giving up a claim to large amounts of West Bank land — including places where Israel has built settlements over the past half-century and strategic areas along the Jordanian border. Most of the world regards the settlements as illegal.

The framework also sets aside the longtime goal of a fully autonomous Palestinian state. Instead, Mr. Trump vaguely promised that Palestinians could “achieve an independent state of their very own” but gave few details, while Mr. Netanyahu said the deal provided a “pathway to a Palestinian state” with significant caveats.

The Palestinians do not subscribe to the plan, though the deal provides for a four-year window for them to engage in renewed settlement talks. During that time, Israel would refrain from constructing settlements in those parts of the West Bank that the plan has designated for Palestinians.

Previous American proposals spoke of uprooting tens of thousands of Israelis from the settlements to return those areas to the Palestinians for inclusion in their state, but the Trump plan promises to leave both settlers and Palestinians in their current homes. Rather, it maps out a series of linked settlements and other areas that would officially become Israeli territory in the midst of the West Bank.

Trump’s Proposal for a Palestinian State

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-300 What to Know About Trump’s Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

State of

Palestine

Israeli

enclaves

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-460 What to Know About Trump’s Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

Mediterranean

Sea

Mediterranean

Sea

State of Palestine

Israeli enclaves

Westlake Legal Group mideast-plan-map-600 What to Know About Trump’s Middle East Plan West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Palestinian Authority Netanyahu, Benjamin Kushner, Jared Jordan Israel

Mediterranean

Sea

Mediterranean

Sea

State of Palestine

Israeli enclaves

Note: Boundaries are approximate and based on available data provided by the White House, some of which was obscured.

Source: White House

By The New York Times

The plan also envisaged a Palestinian capital in “eastern Jerusalem,” on the outer edges of the city beyond Israel’s security barrier, while guaranteeing Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem. The city is a holy site for the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths and has long been a sticking point in peace negotiations.

Mr. Netanyahu later clarified that the proposed Palestinian capital would be in Abu Dis, a Palestinian village on the outskirts of the holy city.

The plan proposes transportation links between the unconnected Palestinian territories in the West Bank and Gaza. But the element of the plan that may prove to be its only lasting effect is American recognition of Israel’s claim over the Jordan Valley and all Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

The proposal gives American approval to Israel’s plan to redefine the country’s borders and formally annex settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley that it has long sought to control.

That would leave the West Bank portion of any potential Palestinian state surrounded on all sides by Israel. Israeli forces seized the West Bank from Jordan during the 1967 war, and Israeli settlements have steadily encroached on the region over the decades since, a move largely condemned internationally.

Mr. Netanyahu caused controversy in September when he vowed, while running for re-election, to annex the Jordan Valley, a strategically critical chunk of the occupied West Bank nestled against the border with Jordan. On Tuesday, he made it clear that he saw President Trump’s plan as giving legitimacy to claiming Israeli settlements and the Jordan Valley as Israeli territory.

“For too long, the very heart of the land of Israel where our patriots prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as ‘illegally occupied territory,’” Mr. Netanyahu said. “Well today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie.”

Mr. Netanyahu said that his cabinet could move within days to assert sovereignty over those areas, but the decision could be subject to legal challenges because the current government is an interim administration.

Despite Mr. Trump’s assertion that the deal was “a win-win opportunity” for both sides, Palestinians have largely rejected it.

Mahmoud Abbas, the 84-year-old leader of the Palestinian Authority, condemned the plan in a speech on Tuesday evening, calling it a “conspiracy” not worthy of serious consideration.

“We say a thousand times over: no, no, no,” Mr. Abbas said, speaking from Ramallah in the West Bank.

The Palestinian leadership cut off communication with the Trump administration in 2017 after Washington recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and later moved the American Embassy to the city. On the streets of Gaza and the West Bank, protests against the plan broke out on Tuesday.

The reaction from other Arab governments has been mixed. None of the United States’ Arab allies have formally endorsed the plan or committed to ushering it into reality, though ambassadors from Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates attended the announcement.

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, said in a call with reporters after the plan was announced that the big reveal was timed in a “nonpolitical way.”

He said that the plan was “fully baked” before an Israeli election last April but that American officials had held off introducing it then. When that election produced no government, the United States again postponed any announcement until after a second election in September, he said.

Now, as Israel approaches a third election in less than a year, which could also fail to produce a government, Mr. Friedman said that the time had been right to introduce the proposal. He noted that American officials had also discussed the plans with Benny Gantz, the leader of the centrist Blue and White Party and Mr. Netanyahu’s main rival in the March 2 election.

But experts say that the timing of the rollout has more to do with the domestic politics of the United States and Israel than with resolving the conflict, with Mr. Trump facing an impeachment trial and Mr. Netanyahu facing trial on corruption charges.

William F. Wechsler, director of Middle East programs at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based research organization, said in an emailed statement that the plan was unlikely to have a major impact in the short term.

“The announcement’s chosen timing, specific staging, limited participants, and indeed its substance make clear that it has less to do with a good-faith effort to reach peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” Mr. Wechsler said, “and more to do with the immediate legal and electoral challenges that confront both leaders.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

A Muted Arab Response to Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan

Westlake Legal Group 28arab-reacts-facebookJumbo A Muted Arab Response to Trump’s Mideast Peace Plan West Bank United States International Relations Trump, Donald J Palestinians Middle East Israel Arabs

BEIRUT, Lebanon — In unveiling his plan Tuesday for solving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, President Trump confidently declared that Arab countries would play a key role in its success.

But none of the United States’ Arab allies formally endorsed the plan or made concrete commitments to back it, raising questions about how helpful they will really be in bringing it to fruition.

Mr. Trump announced the plan in an appearance at the White House with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, describing it both as necessary for Israel’s security and as an opportunity for the Palestinians to govern themselves and grow their economy.

There are “many, many countries who want to partake in this,” he told Mr. Netanyahu, predicting that “you are going to have tremendous support from your neighbors and beyond your neighbors.”

But clear indications of that support were lacking.

While three Arab ambassadors — from Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — were present at the announcement, Mr. Trump said, there were no Palestinians.

“You couldn’t find a single Palestinian to attend?” asked Daoud Kuttab, a Palestinian journalist and columnist with Al-Monitor, an online news site.

And despite Egypt and Jordan having peace treaties with Israel, and Mr. Trump having chosen Saudi Arabia for the first overseas trip of his presidency, “none of them came,” Mr. Daoud noted.

For decades, the Palestinian cause was that rare issue that united Arabs across the Middle East. But in recent years, it waned in importance as the peace process foundered.

Some Arab leaders turned their focus inward to domestic security and economic problems. Others, including Persian Gulf nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have come to see Iran as the region’s greatest threat, and Israel as a potential ally against it.

Concerns about Iran had become “much more existential than the Palestinian issue,” Mr. Kuttab said. “They are worried about their physical presence being threatened from Iran, much more than Israel,” he said.

Still, for all the changes, Arab leaders refrained from publicly backing Mr. Trump’s plan.

In his address at the White House on Tuesday, Mr. Trump thanked Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates “for the incredible work they’ve done in helping us with so much,” and noted that their ambassadors were in attendance. But even those countries did not formally endorse the plan.

Some other countries took a notedly measured stance.

The foreign ministry of Egypt, the first Arab country to reach a peace treaty with Israel, praised Mr. Trump’s efforts to reach an agreement, but the language of its statement remained inside the boundaries of Egypt’s longstanding policy on the conflict.

Egypt “appreciates the continuous efforts” of the Trump administration to end the conflict, the statement said. It encouraged both sides to resume talks that might eventually restore to Palestinians their “full legitimate rights through the establishment of a sovereign independent state.”

The carefully worded statement was a clear expression of support for the American president, if not for the plan itself, from Egypt’s authoritarian ruler, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whom Mr. Trump once called “my favorite dictator.”

The Trump administration is currently mediating a dispute involving Egypt by hosting negotiations with officials from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan over a contentious $4 billion dam that Ethiopia is building.

Jordan, another American ally that has made peace with the Jewish state, effectively ignored Mr. Trump’s plan and restated its commitment to many of the Palestinian demands that the White House proposal disregarded. Among them: the general borders of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

In a statement, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Jordan would continue to work with Arab countries and the international community for “the achievement of a just and lasting peace that meets all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

Saudi Arabia, too, praised Mr. Trump’s efforts, but did not endorse his plan. The kingdom stuck to its longstanding stance that negotiations should lead to “an agreement that achieves legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”

The de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, has broken with previous Saudi leaders by speaking of Israel’s right to its own land and by praising its economy. But Prince Mohammed has not taken formal steps to improve relations because of potential blowback from his own population.

As American allies reacted cautiously to the proposal, adversaries heaped scorn on the United States for its support for Israel.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group and political party, called Mr. Trump’s plan “the deal of shame” and pointed an accusing finger at those Arab countries that have allied themselves with the United States.

“This deal would not have taken place had it not been for the complicity and betrayal of a number of Arab regimes, secretly and publicly involved in this conspiracy,” it said in a statement.

In much of the Arab world, Mr. Trump’s proposal was variously received with outrage, humiliation or weary resignation. Hostility toward the Americans and Israelis appeared matched only by a sense of disillusionment among some Arabs toward their own leaders.

“Historical farces are repeating themselves,” Gamal Eid, a veteran human rights activist in Cairo, said on Twitter. “From the miserable 1917 Balfour Declaration to the farcical 2020 Trump Declaration. And Arab leaders are either useless or cheering.”

Nabil Fahmy, a former foreign minister of Egypt, said he feared that Mr. Trump’s proposal would not only fail to bring peace to the region, but that it might also scupper the chances for a lasting deal.

“To put the proposal this way, you must want to have it rejected,” he said. “And if you reject this deal, you are destroying the tenets of the peace process and all possibilities for progress. It is just astonishing.”

Ali Shihabi, a commentator close to the government of Saudi Arabia, said the plan was “all downside and no upside for U.S. allies in the region.”

Paula Yacoubian, a member of the Lebanese Parliament, was equally dismissive. “A deal from one side is the joke of the century,” she said on Twitter.

Mohamed ElBaradei, a former vice president of Egypt, said he felt the same sense of shame and humiliation that followed the defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. “How would we justify this miserable state of affairs to the upcoming generations?” he wrote on Twitter.

For many, the Trump proposal marked another dismal milestone in what many Arabs view as America’s decades-long abandonment of the Palestinian cause.

A thread of mournful, broader regret ran through some of the commentary, too, a sense that a cause that had united the Middle East for decades was quietly fading away, losing its relevance, and that ordinary Arabs were simply losing interest.

Some said young Arabs were simply preoccupied by the violence or political turmoil that followed the 2011 uprising in several countries, or had themselves been silenced.

“If the governments of the region were representing the will of their people, then perhaps Arab voices would be louder,” said Timothy E. Kaldas, a Cairo-based analyst with the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy. “But with the extraordinary repression the region has seen, with regimes uninterested in critical conversations in their own countries, it’s very hard to see what the publics in those countries could actually do.”

Ben Hubbard reported from Beirut, and Declan Walsh from Cairo. Nada Rashwan contributed reporting from Cairo.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israeli Cabinet Will Vote to Apply Sovereignty to Part of West Bank

Westlake Legal Group 28Israel-analysis9-facebookJumbo Israeli Cabinet Will Vote to Apply Sovereignty to Part of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jordan Jerusalem (Israel) Israel Defense and Military Forces

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would move Sunday to apply Israeli sovereignty to the strategically vital Jordan Valley and to all Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

The move, which was blessed by President Trump and administration officials on Tuesday, is tantamount to annexation.

It could apply to up to 30 percent of the West Bank, occupied territory that Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 war that Palestinians wanted for their future state.

Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli reporters in Washington that his cabinet would vote on the measure on Sunday. The decision could still be subject to legal challenges because the current cabinet is an interim government.

The green light from the White House outraged Israeli supporters of a more generous accommodation with the Palestinians and alarmed those who have warned that any annexation could set off a dangerous chain reaction leading to renewed violence.

“It’s worse than any of us could anticipate,” said Nimrod Novik, a longtime Israeli peace negotiator and former aide to Shimon Peres.

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Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Israeli Cabinet Will Vote to Apply Sovereignty to Part of West Bank

Westlake Legal Group 28Israel-analysis9-facebookJumbo Israeli Cabinet Will Vote to Apply Sovereignty to Part of West Bank West Bank Trump, Donald J Palestinians Netanyahu, Benjamin Jordan Jerusalem (Israel) Israel Defense and Military Forces

JERUSALEM — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would move Sunday to apply Israeli sovereignty to the strategically vital Jordan Valley and to all Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

The move, which was blessed by President Trump and administration officials on Tuesday, is tantamount to annexation.

It could apply to up to 30 percent of the West Bank, occupied territory that Israel seized from Jordan in the 1967 war that Palestinians wanted for their future state.

Mr. Netanyahu told Israeli reporters in Washington that his cabinet would vote on the measure on Sunday. The decision could still be subject to legal challenges because the current cabinet is an interim government.

The green light from the White House outraged Israeli supporters of a more generous accommodation with the Palestinians and alarmed those who have warned that any annexation could set off a dangerous chain reaction leading to renewed violence.

“It’s worse than any of us could anticipate,” said Nimrod Novik, a longtime Israeli peace negotiator and former aide to Shimon Peres.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Outlines Mideast Peace Plan That Strongly Favors Israel

Westlake Legal Group 28dc-prexy-sub2-facebookJumbo Trump Outlines Mideast Peace Plan That Strongly Favors Israel Trump, Donald J Palestinians Kushner, Jared Jerusalem (Israel) Israeli Settlements Israel impeachment

WASHINGTON — President Trump unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan with a flourish on Monday, outlining a proposal that would give Israel most of what it has sought over decades of conflict while creating what he called a Palestinian state with limited sovereignty.

Mr. Trump’s plan would guarantee that Israel would control a unified Jerusalem as its capital and not require it to uproot any of the settlements in the West Bank that have provoked Palestinian outrage and alienated much of the outside world. He promised to provide $50 billion in international financing to build the new Palestinian entity and open an embassy in its new state.

“My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood into security,” the president said at a White House ceremony that demonstrated the one-sided state of affairs as he was flanked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel but no counterpart from the Palestinian leadership, which is not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.

Mr. Trump insisted his plan would be good for the Palestinians and in his speech reached out to President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. “President Abbas,” he said, “I want you to know if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries, we will be there, we will be there to help you in so many different ways.”

The event in the East Room of the White House had a Kabuki-theater quality to it as the president ended years of suspense over a highly-touted peace plan that was widely considered dead on arrival. Rather than a serious blueprint for peace, analysts called it a political document by a president in the middle of an impeachment trial working in tandem with a prime minister under criminal indictment and facing his third election in a year in barely over a month.

Nearly three years in the making and overseen by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, the plan is the latest of numerous American efforts to settle the seventy-plus year conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. But it marks a sharp turn in the American approach, dropping decades of American support for only modest adjustments to Israeli borders drawn in a 1967 armistice and discarding the longtime goal of granting the Palestinians a full-fledged state.

The proposal imagines new Israeli borders that cut far into the West Bank, and, at least in the short term, calls for what Mr. Netanyahu has described as a Palestinian “state-minus,” lacking an army or air force.

Mr. Trump said it was the first time that Israel had authorized the release of such a conceptual map illustrating territorial compromises it would make. He said it would “more than double Palestinian territory” while ensuring that “no Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.”

Mr. Netanyahu called it ”a realistic path to a durable peace” that “strikes the right balance where others have failed.” Calling Mr. Trump the best friend Israel has ever had in the White House, Mr. Netanyahu added: “It’s a great plan for Israel. It’s a great plan for peace.”

Early in his presidency, Mr. Trump suggested that a peace deal would be “frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

By asking the Palestinians to make far more territorial concessions than past proposals, it provides an American imprimatur of support to decades of aggressive Israeli settlement building in Palestinian areas seized in two wars between Israel and Arab states. And it sends a grim message to the Palestinians that they have missed their chance to win the “two state solution” they long pursued — as least so long as Mr. Trump is president.

Mr. Kushner and a small circle of Trump officials chose not to pursue the traditional path of brokering talks between the two parties that could lead to a joint proposal, but to hand one down from Washington. Peace-process veterans say that last happened under President Ronald Reagan in 1982.

Working secretively, Mr. Kushner and his team — which included the American ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, a strong supporter of Israeli settlement construction — consulted closely with Mr. Netanyahu’s government. But their contact with Palestinian officials ended after Mr. Trump moved the United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv in December 2017.

Rather than court the Palestinians after that, the Trump administration only increased pressure on them, cutting off American funding for Palestinian areas and shuttering the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.

That dashed the initial hopes of Palestinians who believed that Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach toward foreign policy, and his love for a grand deal, could lead him to pressure Israel to a degree they felt previous American presidents had not.

In the near term, the 80-page plan is most likely to stir up Israeli and American politics. Mr. Trump is sure to cite the plan’s pro-Israel slant on the 2020 campaign trail to win support from conservative Jewish Americans in Florida and other key states, along with the Evangelical Christians who are some of his strongest backers and support Israeli expansion in the Holy Land.

While the Palestinians are nearly certain to reject the plan, Trump allies say they will be closely watching other Arab governments with whom Mr. Trump has established close relations and who have thawed relations with Israel, to see whether they might give the plan any political cover.

Speaking in Tel Aviv on Monday, Nikki Haley, Mr. Trump’s former United Nations Ambassador, suggested that such Arab support could force the Palestinians to come to the table. “If the Arab countries respond favorably to the plan, or even if they don’t run to the Palestinian side, that’s going to be a huge, telling lesson to the Palestinians that they may not have the backing they had before,” she said.

Michael Crowley and Peter Baker reported from Washington, and David M. Halbfinger reported from Jerusalem.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Trump Tries to Upstage Drama in the Senate With His Own Programming

Westlake Legal Group merlin_167724795_de7d1367-d8ed-4e63-b3b5-e5ec9be8a5d8-facebookJumbo Trump Tries to Upstage Drama in the Senate With His Own Programming Ukraine Trump, Donald J Trump-Ukraine Whistle-Blower Complaint and Impeachment Inquiry Palestinians Middle East Israel impeachment Abortion

WASHINGTON — On the chilly grounds of the National Mall, within sight of the gleaming white Capitol where he is on trial for high crimes and misdemeanors, President Trump on Friday rallied abortion opponents gathered for their annual march and equated their battle with his own.

“They are coming after me,” Mr. Trump declared about a half-hour before the day’s trial session opened, with two of the juror-senators joining him onstage, “because I am fighting for you and we are fighting for those who have no voice. And we will win because we know how to win. We all know how to win. We all know how to win.”

For Mr. Trump, the strategy to win these days is counterprogramming. While Democrats and Republicans debate whether he should be convicted and removed from office, the president has offered up an alternative menu of events intended to focus attention on his economic record, present himself as a peacemaker and cater to his conservative base.

As the trial opened in earnest this week, he was hobnobbing with global corporate titans in Davos, Switzerland, trumpeting the growth of jobs and markets back home. As the House managers prosecuting him wrapped up their case on Friday, he became the first sitting president to attend the March for Life, bolstering his ties to the anti-abortion movement. And as senators begin posing their own questions next week, he plans to host Israeli leaders and release his long-awaited Middle East peace plan.

In case those are not enough to draw away attention from the proceedings in the Senate chamber, Mr. Trump has scheduled not one but two campaign rallies next week, one in New Jersey on Tuesday and another in Iowa on Thursday — even as four of his putative Democratic rivals are stuck at his trial, unable to campaign in the last days before the Iowa caucuses.

And he sought to get the last word in on Friday, giving an interview to air on Fox News at 10 p.m., just an hour after the House managers wrapped up their opening arguments. In the interview, he defended the decision to recall Ambassador Marie L. Yovanovitch, who was viewed by his associates as an impediment to their effort to get Ukraine to investigate Democrats.

Still, while Mr. Trump hoped to distract from the prosecution case led by Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California, the past three days, the ever-ratings-conscious former reality show star was clearly irritated that his own lawyers would be opening their arguments on Saturday, when the television audience presumably may be smaller.

“After having been treated unbelievably unfairly in the House, and then having to endure hour after hour of lies, fraud & deception by Shifty Schiff, Cryin’ Chuck Schumer & their crew, looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.,” the president wrote on Twitter on Friday.

But the primary challenge for the White House legal team will not be earning ratings so much as doing no harm. With acquittal all but assured given the requirement for a two-thirds vote for conviction, the president’s lawyers will try to poke holes in the prosecution’s case to buttress Republican senators already inclined to vote for the president. At the same time, they will have to make sure they do not lose any of the handful of relative moderates who at one point may have been up for grabs.

Mindful that senators of both parties have grown weary and were eager to get out of town, if only for part of the weekend, the White House team agreed to a Senate request to start Saturday’s proceedings early and use only a portion of its time. The session will open at 10 a.m. instead of 1 p.m. and last no more than three hours. Then the White House team will put on a full presentation on Monday.

“I guess I would call it a trailer, coming attractions — that would be the best way to say it,” Jay Sekulow, one of the president’s lawyers, told reporters.

Mr. Sekulow also previewed the aggressive and confrontational approach the White House lawyers intend to take when it is their turn. They will argue that it was the Democrats who accepted foreign help in 2016, citing a research dossier by a British former intelligence officer, and that Mr. Trump has been persecuted from the start. They will highlight a recent report criticizing the F.B.I. for the way it obtained a warrant to continue surveillance on a onetime Trump campaign adviser.

They will also focus attention on former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his son Hunter Biden, arguing that Mr. Trump had legitimate reasons to accuse them of corruption. Mr. Sekulow said the managers not only opened the window to discussing the Bidens by spending so much time on Thursday defending them but they “kicked the door open.” He and his colleagues will argue that Democrats were trying to influence the 2020 election by taking Mr. Trump off the ballot.

“They put their case forward,” said Mr. Sekulow. “It’s our time next.”

As the trial has gotten underway, Mr. Trump uncharacteristically has limited his public pushback to select moments, instead making an effort to appear focused on other matters, much like President Bill Clinton sought to do during his own impeachment trial in 1999. He largely stuck to the topic of abortion at the march on Friday, turning to other issues during an afternoon public meeting with mayors from around the country.

But there have moments this week when his grievance and anger got the better of him and he has lashed out, usually on Twitter. On Wednesday, as Mr. Schiff and his team had the Senate floor to themselves and without interruption all afternoon and deep into the night, Mr. Trump posted or reposted 142 messages on Twitter, many assailing the managers and their case, setting a record for his presidency.

The effort to counterprogram with other public initiatives has led to some strategic gambles. Mr. Trump’s decision to attend the March for Life in person on Friday defied the conventional wisdom that led other anti-abortion Republican presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to play it more cautiously by staying away and sending taped or telephoned messages instead.

Likewise, the president chose now, of all times, to finally unveil his plan to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. For three years, he and his team have said they would wait for the most opportune moment, then suddenly concluded that this was that time, even though Israel is focused on its third election in a year and the Palestinians are not on speaking terms with the Trump administration.

Underscoring just how unsettled the moment really is, Mr. Trump plans to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel at the White House on Tuesday, and has invited Mr. Netanyahu’s major campaign opponent, Benny Gantz, as well, unsure who his negotiating partner will be in just a matter of weeks.

Yet the president’s friend, Mr. Netanyahu, eager to hang onto office, may be just as eager for a distraction from his domestic troubles as Mr. Trump, leading to the odd spectacle of an American president on trial in the Senate for abuse of power hosting an Israeli prime minister indicted on charges of corruption.

For Mr. Trump, at least, the public remains largely unmoved. A new poll by The Washington Post and ABC News found that Americans remain as divided as they have been for months over whether he should be removed from office, with 47 percent for and 49 percent against. His approval rating stood at 44 percent.

Whether that will change as a result of the trial remains uncertain. But Mr. Trump said his legal team starting on Saturday will reinforce his message that he has been unfairly targeted by a partisan witch hunt.

“What my people have to do is just be honest, just tell the truth,” he said in the Fox interview. “They’ve been testifying, the Democrats, they’ve been telling so many lies, so many fabrications, so much exaggeration. And this is not impeachable.”

Michael D. Shear and Maggie Haberman contributed reporting.

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Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria

Westlake Legal Group 19israel-rockets-1-facebookJumbo Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria Palestinians Palestinian Islamic Jihad Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel golan heights Defense and Military Forces Damascus International Airport (Syria) Damascus (Syria)

Four rockets were launched from Syria toward the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights at dawn on Tuesday, setting off air-raid sirens but causing no harm, according to the Israeli military.

The military said that the incoming fire was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and that it appeared no rockets had fallen on the Israeli-controlled side of the line.

It was not immediately clear if the rocket fire from Syria was meant as a surprise attack or came in response to Israeli activity across its northern frontier. Around the same time as the rocket launches, Sana, the official Syrian news agency, reported that explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Damascus airport.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no comment on the report from Syria.

After decades of quiet, there have been occasional exchanges of fire across the old Israeli-Syrian armistice line as Israel has worked, mostly clandestinely, to curb Iran’s growing influence in Syria, largely under cover of the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Abandoning years of ambiguity over Israeli involvement in specific attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged early this year that Israeli forces had attacked Iranian weapons warehouses at Damascus International Airport.

Israel’s shadow war against Iran became even more public this summer when it carried out a series of strikes in the region, including one that killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria who Israel said were preparing to dispatch armed drones to attack it.

The latest tensions in the north came days after a flare-up across Israel’s border with Gaza to the south. Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza, in a two-day clash set off by Israel’s killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander there in a surprise airstrike.

The Syrian authorities and Islamic Jihad also blamed Israel for another, almost simultaneous, missile attack on the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, describing him as a member of the group’s political bureau in Syria. Mr. al-Ajouri survived the attack, but his son and another person were reported killed in the strike. Maintaining its more customary silence in an effort to avoid retaliation, Israel neither claimed nor denied responsibility for that attack.

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Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria

Westlake Legal Group 19israel-rockets-1-facebookJumbo Israel Intercepts Four Rockets Launched From Syria Palestinians Palestinian Islamic Jihad Netanyahu, Benjamin Israel golan heights Defense and Military Forces Damascus International Airport (Syria) Damascus (Syria)

Four rockets were launched from Syria toward the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights at dawn on Tuesday, setting off air-raid sirens but causing no harm, according to the Israeli military.

The military said that the incoming fire was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system and that it appeared no rockets had fallen on the Israeli-controlled side of the line.

It was not immediately clear if the rocket fire from Syria was meant as a surprise attack or came in response to Israeli activity across its northern frontier. Around the same time as the rocket launches, Sana, the official Syrian news agency, reported that explosions were heard in the vicinity of the Damascus airport.

An Israeli military spokeswoman had no comment on the report from Syria.

After decades of quiet, there have been occasional exchanges of fire across the old Israeli-Syrian armistice line as Israel has worked, mostly clandestinely, to curb Iran’s growing influence in Syria, largely under cover of the chaos of Syria’s civil war.

Abandoning years of ambiguity over Israeli involvement in specific attacks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged early this year that Israeli forces had attacked Iranian weapons warehouses at Damascus International Airport.

Israel’s shadow war against Iran became even more public this summer when it carried out a series of strikes in the region, including one that killed two Iranian-trained militants in Syria who Israel said were preparing to dispatch armed drones to attack it.

The latest tensions in the north came days after a flare-up across Israel’s border with Gaza to the south. Palestinian militants from Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets into Israel, and Israeli warplanes struck targets in Gaza, in a two-day clash set off by Israel’s killing of a senior Islamic Jihad commander there in a surprise airstrike.

The Syrian authorities and Islamic Jihad also blamed Israel for another, almost simultaneous, missile attack on the Damascus home of Akram al-Ajouri, describing him as a member of the group’s political bureau in Syria. Mr. al-Ajouri survived the attack, but his son and another person were reported killed in the strike. Maintaining its more customary silence in an effort to avoid retaliation, Israel neither claimed nor denied responsibility for that attack.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides?

Westlake Legal Group 18settlements-explainer-facebookJumbo Are West Bank Settlements Illegal? Who Decides? West Bank United States International Relations Politics and Government Palestinians Palestine Liberation Organization Netanyahu, Benjamin Israeli Settlements Israel International Criminal Court International Court of Justice (UN) General Assembly (UN) Defense and Military Forces

The Trump administration’s declaration Monday that Israeli settlements on the West Bank are “not inconsistent with international law” reversed American policy on the settlements and contradicted the view of most countries.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel applauded the announcement as a “policy that rights a historical wrong,” while Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said it was an attempt by the Trump administration “to replace international law with the ‘law of the jungle.’”

Who is right? What does international law say? What difference does the United States announcement make?

Here’s a brief guide.

The United Nations General Assembly, the United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice have all said that Israeli settlements on the West Bank violate the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 war and has occupied the territory ever since. The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by 192 nations in the aftermath of World War II, says that an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.” The statute that established the International Criminal Court in 1998 classifies such transfers as war crimes, as well as any destruction or appropriation of property not justified by military necessity.

Israel argues that a Jewish presence has existed on the West Bank for thousands of years and was recognized by the League of Nations in 1922. Jordan’s rule over the territory, from 1948 to 1967, was never recognized by most of the world, so Israel also argues there was no legal sovereign power in the area and therefore the prohibition on transferring people from one state to the occupied territory of another does not apply.

The International Court of Justice rejected that argument in an advisory opinion in 2004, ruling that the settlements violated international law.

The Israeli Supreme Court and the government do consider settlement construction on privately owned Palestinian land to be illegal.

Under the Oslo Accords, signed by Israel and the Palestinians in the 1990s, both sides agreed that the status of Israeli settlements would be resolved by negotiation. However, negotiations have stalled and there have been no active peace talks since 2014.

Israel has built about 130 formal settlements in the West Bank since 1967. A similar number of smaller, informal settlement outposts have gone up since the 1990s, without government authorization but usually with some government support.

More than 400,000 Israeli settlers now live in the West Bank alongside more than 2.6 million Palestinians.

Some of the settlements are home to religious Zionists who believe that the West Bank, which Israel refers to by its biblical names of Judea and Samaria, is their biblical birthright. Many secular and ultra-Orthodox Jews also moved there largely for cheaper housing.

Some settlements were strategically located in line with Israel’s security interests. Other, more isolated communities were established for ideological reasons, including an effort to prevent a contiguous Palestinian state.

Israel also captured East Jerusalem in 1967, and annexed it. The Palestinians demand East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state, and much of the world still considers it occupied territory.

Most of the world views the expansion of Israeli settlements as an impediment to a peace agreement. While most blueprints for a peace agreement envisage a land swap — Israel retains the main settlement blocs, where a majority of the settlers live, and hands over other territory to the Palestinians — the more remote and populated the settlements, the harder that becomes.

Mr. Netanyahu, who is currently fighting to remain prime minister after two inconclusive elections, has promised to annex the settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, constituting up to a third of the West Bank.

In June, the American ambassador to Israel, David M. Friedman, said that Israel had a right to retain at least some of the West Bank.

The Trump administration’s declaration may be seen by supporters of the settlement enterprise as giving a green light to Israeli annexation plans. But Israeli experts cautioned that might not be the case.

“It’s one thing saying the settlements are not in violation of international law and another to say whether they are good for peace or not,” said Michael Herzog, an Israel-based fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Trump administration neither rejected nor endorsed Mr. Netanyahu’s annexation proposal, he said, and it remains “an open question” how it would react if Israel unilaterally annexed West Bank territory.

He and others said that while the policy change could affect the public perception of the settlements, the legal question would have little bearing on a comprehensive peace deal, which is ultimately a political act.

“The settlements are an agreed upon issue for negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians,” said Alan Baker, a former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry. “It’s an issue that has yet to be negotiated.”

But in the absence of negotiations, the American policy could be used to justify even more settlement construction.

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