by: Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 30 June 2020 | Five months after US President Donald Trump released his Peace to Prosperity plan—and days before Israel’s target date to initiate the application of sovereignty to the pockets of land in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley allocated to the Jewish state under that plan—the Palestinians deemed it the appropriate time to formally respond to the proposal.
According to the AFP, the Palestinian Authority (PA) on Monday dispatched its counter-proposal in a letter addressed to the Quartet on the Middle East, a foursome comprising the US, Russia, the United Nations and the European Union, tasked with mediating peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
The PA’s proposition include an offer to resuscitate peace talks with Israel, agree to “minor territorial exchanges” based on pre-Six Day War borders and accept “a state with a limited amount of weapons and…a strong police force,” with an international force, such as NATO, monitoring compliance to a peace treaty.
However, the PA vehemently rejects the territorial exchanges offered in the Peace to Prosperity plan that paves the way for Israel to apply sovereignty to existing Jewish communities amounting to 30% of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley—a process that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu aims to launch as early as next month—existing alongside a demilitarized Palestinian state. In fact, the letter threatens to withdraw the offer of concessions should Israel apply sovereignty to “any part” of what the PA claims as “Palestinian territory.”
“No one has as much interest as the Palestinians in reaching a peace agreement and no one has as much to lose as the Palestinians in the absence of peace,” AFP quoted the four-page letter to the Quartet as saying.
This is the first time the Palestinians offer a formal response to President Trump’s peace plan. Ever since President Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the PA has boycotted the Trump Administration and cut all ties with the US as well as security cooperation with Israel. The PA also accused the US of a pro-Israel bias and preemptively rejected Trump’s “Deal of the Century” in its entirety, hailing it as the “slap of the century.”
This is also the first time the Palestinians express a willingness to sit down with Israel for direct talks after the previous round of negotiations in 2014 went the way of every other round before that: the Palestinians shunning Israel’s outstretched hand for peace.
Two days before the Palestinians dispatched their counter-proposal missive, Netanyahu reiterated an invitation he has extended on numerous occasions in the past. Speaking at a virtual summit on Saturday evening, the prime minister called on the Palestinians to enter negotiations based on the President Trump’s peace plan.
“I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century trying to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said. “They should embrace Trump’s vision. They should sit down and negotiate in good faith. They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike.
“Israel is prepared for such negotiations,” Netanyahu continued. “I am prepared for such a negotiation. And I’m sure that many Arab states in our region are hoping we enter such negotiations with the Palestinians.”
Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz echoed Netanyahu’s call, advising the Palestinians to rethink their rejection of the plan “and not miss another opportunity for positive change, for peace and for prosperity.”
Judging from the counter-proposal the Quartet received on Monday, its seems like history is set to repeat itself. It seems like Palestinian leaders will once again snub their noses at another opportunity to gain the very things they claim to want, dooming its people to yet another cycle of violence and misery.
Posted on June 30, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 30, 2020)
Photo Credit: UNIS Vienna/flickr.com
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