Egyptian official: Foreign Ministry statement on Trump ‘peace plan’ slightly watered down from initial draft
Courtesy: Benjamin Netanyahu's official Twitter account

US President Donald Trump unveiled his highly touted “peace plan” on Tuesday night in the White House standing alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The 181-page proposal sides with Israel on nearly every key issue, including borders, settlements, the status of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees. In response, Palestinian leaders, who were not a part of the negotiations, blasted the plan. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas denounced the plan as a “conspiracy” and said his people’s rights “are not for sale,” while Hamas senior spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri called the proposal “nonsense.”

Egypt’s Foreign Ministry released a statement on Tuesday 30 minutes after the plan was released, saying it “appreciates the continuous efforts” of the Trump administration to achieve a “comprehensive and just settlement of the Palestinian issue.” The statement went on to encourage both sides “to undertake a careful and thorough consideration of the US vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue, under US auspices, for the resumption of negotiations.”

The statement differed in some of its wording from an earlier draft prepared by the Foreign Ministry that was sent to the president’s office for approval, according to a government official who saw the original draft and compared it to the final statement. According to the source, the original draft text mentioned the establishment of a “Palestinian state on territories occupied in 1967, with East Jerusalem as its capital” — a phrase that was omitted in the final version.

The final statement also omitted a phrase from the initial draft that stipulated the “need for Israel to realize that achieving peace in the region will not happen without guaranteeing the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people,” the source said. Instead, the final statement used slightly less direct phrasing that pointed to the importance of “restoring to the Palestinian people their full legitimate rights through the establishment of a sovereign independent state in the Palestinian occupied territories in accordance with international legitimacy and resolutions.”

Jordan issued a less enthusiastic reaction, saying it remained committed to a two-state solution based on Israel’s pre-1967 lines. It also rejected any “unilateral measures” by Israel, referring to the annexation of Palestinian land and the building of illegal Israeli settlements. Like Egypt, Saudi Arabia also praised Trump’s efforts, but it also made reference to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

The strongest show of support for the plan among Arab countries came from the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, who went so far as to have their ambassadors in attendance at the White House press conference on Tuesday. In a statement, the UAE ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, called the plan “a serious initiative that addresses many issues raised over the years.” 

The muted response by Arab countries stands in contrast to other reactions around the world. 

A case in point was Ireland, which stressed that “annexation of territory by force is prohibited under international law” and voiced “grave concern that [the plan] fails to achieve the balance and equality of esteem necessary to gain the support of both sides to the conflict and the international community,” in a statement by the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Meanwhile in the United States, two Democratic presidential front-runners strongly criticized the proposal. Bernie Sanders wrote on his official Twitter account Sanders that any peace plan “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.” Elizabeth Warren wrote on Twitter that “Trump’s “peace plan” is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state. Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham.”


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