Under Trump’s proposals, the United States will recognize Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The White House released a statement immediately after Trump’s televised address outlining the main points:
Critics say both Trump and Netanyahu are intent on diverting attention away from domestic troubles. Trump has been impeached and is on trial in the U.S. Senate, while Netanyahu was indicted on corruption charges in November. Both deny wrongdoing. The Reuters said.
They also face re-election campaigns – Netanyahu in March and Trump in November. Netanyahu twice tried and failed to secure a majority in the Israeli parliament last year.
Trump repeatedly delayed the launch of his plan to avoid causing election problems for Netanyahu because of the likelihood that any concessions on settlements or Palestinian statehood would create problems for him among his right-wing voter base.
But Trump faces his own political clock and could ill-afford to wait for months for Israel to decide its next prime minister, according to a source familiar with the peace team’s thinking.
The last Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.
Enduring obstacles include the expansion of Israeli settlements on occupied land over decades, and generations of mutual suspicion.
In November, the United States reversed decades of policy when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington no longer regarded Israeli settlements in the West Bank as a breach of international law.
Palestinians and most of the international community view the settlements as illegal under international law. Israel disputes that.
The past two decades have also seen the rise to power in Gaza of the armed Islamist movement Hamas, which is formally committed to Israel’s destruction and is in the midst of a decades-long power struggle with the Western-backed Palestinian Authority, headed by President Mahmoud Abbas.
Speaking after Trump in Washington, Netanyahu described the announcement as “a historic day.”
He compared Trump’s plan to U.S. President Harry Truman’s 1948 recognition of the state of Israel.
“On this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage,” he added, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.
Abbas called Trump’s plan the “slap of the century.”
“I say to Trump and Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,” Abbas said in a televised address in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
The Islamist militant group Hamas, whose stronghold is in Gaza, was scathing.
“Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.
“Trump’s statement about Jerusalem is nonsense and Jerusalem will always be a land for the Palestinians.”
The Palestinian leadership has argued that Washington can no longer be regarded as a mediator after a series of Trump decisions that delighted Israel but infuriated Palestinians.
Those included recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to the Palestinians.
The cuts were widely seen as a means of pressuring the Palestinian leadership to come back to the negotiating table. So far, that has failed.