News Roundup for January 29, 2020

January 29, 2020

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J Street in the News

A preview of Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan, PBS Newshour
“J Street, which is an Israeli — or a Jewish lobbying group here in D.C. that considers itself pro-Israeli and pro-peace said that this was a peace plan in name only, an illegitimate attempt, because there’s no serious attempt to engage with Palestinian aspirations. Palestinians are not part of this deal, and nobody in the US especially is even pretending that they are.”

Trump’s Middle East peace plan expected to offer Palestinians conditional statehood, Washington Post
“Jeremy Ben-Ami, head of the U.S. pro-Israel group J Street, called the White House rollout ‘a blatant political stunt’ meant to distract from Trump’s and Netanyahu’s political and legal problems. ‘This is not the day, if you are a serious policymaker, to resolve the world’s most difficult conflict,’ he said in an interview from Israel. ‘The fact that they chose this day tells you everything you need to know.’”

Gantz’s Party Must Reject Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’, Haaretz
J Street’s Yael Patir writes, “Kahol Lavan chairman Benny Gantz would do well if – instead of getting excited about deals that are no more than declarations whose only objective is mutual assistance between two corrupt leaders – he were to propose an alternative of rapprochement and a return to the negotiating table, in place of the right’s dangerous delusions of annexations.”

AIPAC, J Street offer predictably contrasting views on Trump peace plan, Times of Israel
“Liberal advocacy group J Street denounced the plan as having ‘zero chance of serving as the basis for renewed diplomacy’ and said it is ‘the logical culmination of repeated bad-faith steps this administration has taken to validate the agenda of the Israeli right.’”

Top News and Analysis

Trump Plan’s First Result: Israel Will Claim Sovereignty Over Part of West Bank, New York Times
The only immediate consequence of the Trump peace plan — and possibly all that will ever come of it — was the green light President Trump gave to Israel Tuesday to expand its territory by effectively annexing vast stretches of land it has long coveted on the West Bank.

US envoy: Israel ‘does not have to wait’ to annex settlements, Times of Israel
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Tuesday that Israel was free to immediately annex West Bank settlements, minutes after the long-awaited release of US President Donald Trump’s proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “Israel does not have to wait at all,” he said, when asked whether there was a “waiting period” over when the country could extend Israeli sovereignty to the settlements.

Trump Unveils the “Giveaway of the Century” on Middle East Peace, The New Yorker
Robin Wright writes, “The plan calls for a two-state solution, but largely in name only. It grants Israel’s long-standing demands on settlements and borders, security, Jerusalem, and refugees. Israel will have the right to annex parts of the West Bank that it now occupies, significantly reducing and further dividing Palestinian territory. It gets control of Jerusalem as its “undivided” capital. And it will assume security control over the entire West Bank, the Jordan River Valley, and Jerusalem. The Palestinians will be left with a proto-state that is physically divided, economically challenged, and possibly not viable as a modern country. Trump’s plan also lacks diplomatic energy—with no formal mechanism to get the two sides together—or any sense of urgency, since it offers a vague four-year window for the Palestinians to complete a long list of preconditions just to talk with Israel.”


Jared Kushner says Palestine will ‘screw up’ by rejecting peace plan like they have every time ‘in their existence’, The Week
Kushner, who played a central role in devising the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan unveiled earlier in the day, said during an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the proposal offers Palestinians the best chance for a “better life,” suggesting it’d be a mistake for them not to accept the offer. If they don’t, he said — while placing much of the blame on Palestinian leadership — they’ll “screw up” yet another opportunity like they’ve always done.

‘Slap of the century’: Palestinians reject Trump Mideast plan, Reuters
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan the “slap of the century” on Tuesday as thousands of Palestinians held protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

Top Arab MK: Trump plan an ‘assassination’ of two-state solution, Times of Israel
The Trump administration’s soon-to-be-unveiled peace plan is an “assassination of the two-state solution,” MK Ayman Odeh, head of the predominantly Arab Joint List party, said on Tuesday, shortly before the plan’s release.

Democrats denounce Trump’s Israel-Palestine plan, Middle East Eye
“Any acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN resolutions,” Sanders said. “It must end the Israeli occupation and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent state of their own alongside a secure Israel. Trump’s so-called ‘peace deal’ doesn’t come close, and will only perpetuate the conflict. It is unacceptable.”

Warren: Trump’s peace plan ‘offers no chance for real Palestinian state’, The Hill
In a tweet, Warren asserted that Trump’s proposal was a “rubber stamp” for future annexation of Palestinian-held territory by Israeli forces, adding that she would oppose any plan that, like Trump’s, was not crafted with Palestinian negotiators at the table.

UN committed to two-state solution on ‘pre-1967 lines’, Anadolu Agency
“The United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements and realizing the vision of two States – Israel and Palestine – living side by side in peace and security within recognized borders, on the basis of the pre-1967 lines,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.

Pro-Israel Democratic Super PAC to Air Attack Ads Against Bernie Sanders, New York Times
The group, the Democratic Majority for Israel, will begin airing a negative campaign spot on Wednesday, as worries mount among moderate Democrats that Mr. Sanders could win the Iowa caucuses.

Likud minister says cabinet won’t discuss annexation on Sunday after all, Times of Israel
A minister from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party said Wednesday morning that the cabinet will not discuss an immediate annexation of West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley on Sunday, reversing a promise made by the premier a day earlier.

Fact Check: Trump Did Not Actually Offer the Palestinians a State, Haaretz
Details of Trump’s plan make it clear it will lead not to a Palestinian state, but to Israel taking full control of the entire West Bank.

Opinion and Analysis

A Deal That Has Two Elections, Rather Than Mideast Peace, as Its Focus, New York Times
David E. Sanger writes, “The Israeli-Palestinian peace plan unveiled by President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sounds more like a road map for their own futures than for the Middle East.”

Trump and Netanyahu have made Mideast peace an even more distant prospect, Washington Post
The Editorial Board writes, “The peace plan that President Trump unveiled at the White House Tuesday amounts, as a practical matter, to another one-sided gift to the right-wing Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Mr. Trump promised U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all of the settlements Israel has constructed in the West Bank — a radical shift in a half-century-old American policy.”

Trump’s Peace Plan Is Ludicrous, Dangerous and One-sided, Haaretz
Chemi Shalev writes, “Against the backdrop of a White House audience of enthusiastic cheerleaders, in a ceremony that seemed to fuse a Donald Trump rally with a religious Zionist gala, the president pronounced a dramatic, pro-Israeli shift in U.S. foreign policy and laid down a lopsided peace plan that exceeds any rational Israeli’s wildest dreams.”

Trump’s Israel-Palestine “peace plan” is a con, Vox
Zack Beauchamp writes, “The proposal is missing a signature feature of every prior peace plan: a path to a viable Palestinian state. It divides up the Palestinian territories and surrounds them by Israel, and gives Israel total control over Palestinian security — allowing a future Palestinian government to exercise full control over its own land only when Israel deems it acceptable. It’s a kind of state-minus: a Palestine without much of its land and subservient to Israel for basic functions.”

Trump’s ‘deal of the century’ is no deal at all, Washington Post
Ishaan Tharoor writes, “Rather than working to bridge the profound gap between Israelis and Palestinians that bedeviled U.S. policymakers for decades, the Trump administration has spent the past three years doling out concessions to the former, while placing its boot on the latter.”

How Trump’s Mideast peace plan could actually matter, Politico
Nahal Toosi writes, “Trump may have dramatically redrawn the boundaries of politically acceptable terms for a U.S. administration – Democratic or Republican – to endorse if it wades into the conflict.”

Trump and Netanyahu Dictate Terms of Palestinian Surrender to Israel and Call It Peace, The Intercept
Robert Mackey writes, “Trump, who intervened in a previous Israeli election campaigns on Netanyahu’s behalf — by recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights last year — gave the embattled prime minister a podium at the White House to detail conditions imposed on the Palestinians which sounded like terms of surrender.”

Trump’s Mideast Plan Is a Recipe for War, Not Peace, Haaretz
Diana Buttu writes, “Trump’s ‘peace plan’ endorses the Netanyahu doctrine that, for Israel, might is always right. Palestinians must refuse to engage with these fictional negotiations, with this U.S. administration – and with a bullying Israel.”

The Trump administration’s new Mideast ‘peace’ plan is absurd, Washington Post
Paul Waldman writes, “The plan creates a kind of Palestinian archipelago, a series of areas under their (limited) control interspersed with Israeli settlements. Though the Israelis would cease building new settlements on the West Bank, no Israeli settlements will be dismantled.”

Jared Kushner, architect of Trump’s Middle East peace plan, still doesn’t get it, Vox
Alex Ward writes, “Senior White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner spent three years working on the Trump administration’s newly released Israel-Palestine peace plan. Yet the main talking point he’s using to sell the proposal reveals the fundamental problem at the heart of the plan itself: the administration’s tacit endorsement of Israel’s continued illegal settlements in Palestinian territory.”