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Measured on Trump’s Plan

By Erol Avdović – WEBPUBLICAPRESS – UNITED NATIONS – New York – The United Nations reacted promptly and in a very professional manner to the extensive plan of US President Donald J. Trump on Middle East. The plan has proposed a permanent solution for Israel and Palestine yet to be reached.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his chief spokesman Stephan Dujarric at UN Headquarters in New York (Photo by Erol Avdovic, Webpublicapress 2018)

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and his chief spokesman Stephan Dujarric at UN Headquarters in New York (Photo by Erol Avdovic, Webpublicapress 2018)

Confirming that he did not receive a copy of the (80 pages) plan released Tuesday at the White House, as the UN spokesperson put – Secretary General Antonio Guterres still was able to see it after the plan was presented in Washington. As expected, Mr. Guterres responded cautiously reaffirming old well-known UN views on the issue which has for years been a source of regional instability and a threat to peace and security.

The UN remains committed

UN firmly supports the two-state solution, as it has been defined, throughout the years, by relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions by which the Secretariat is bound, Guterres’ spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in New York in a written statement sent to journalists.

The statement say United Nations remains committed to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict by embracing all UN resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements. UN stresses it will realize 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.”

In reality, analysts recognize all the story goes around the borders since they several decades later  remain a source of continued conflict. And the the new plan emerged in Washington, which the US president calls a vision seem to cement the situation in which the Palestinians are deprived of what they have lost. Unfortunately, no one talks about returning refugees to their lost hearths any more. At the same token, UN resolutions, mention by the officials – call all Israeli settlements in the West Bank illegal and call for a solution based on the borders before the 1967 Six Day War, with agreed land swaps. That is how many news agencies are in understanding the UN position.

Mr. Guterres has not yet directly confronted always curious UN journalists about the issue, since his pre-scheduled press conference in New York was canceled ahead of the announcement of the US plan in Washington on Tuesday. But he will be questioned for sure and further on his views and positions about the details of the US plan; in some respects plan stands at odds with the UN positions and views, such is the issue of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel for example.

There are, of course, issues that put the human rights aspect of this at the forefront, of which Mr. Guterres also can’t escape.

Others responded much more openly by presenting some new views and observations and did not shy away from even harsh criticism. Human Rights Watch (HRW) in New York was among first to react that way.

In response to the White House “Peace to Prosperity” plan, Eric Goldstein, acting Middle East and

Human Rights Watch (photo file)

Human Rights Watch (photo file)

North Africa director at HRW, said the Trump plan “underscores what the long-moribund ‘peace process’ has become: a fig leaf for Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians.”

In a statement sent to journalists, HRW says that more than a half-century of “systematic Israeli repression of Palestinians should firmly put to rest the notion that downplaying human rights will ease the path to a negotiated solution.”

“The only viable path to a lasting peace is one rooted in the dignity and respect of the human rights of both Israelis and Palestinians,” HRW said in New York.

 

Pushing forward with optimism

 

President Trump announcing US Plan for Middle East 28 January 2020 (Courtesy photo for education only)

President Trump announcing US Plan for Middle East 28 January 2020 (Courtesy photo for education only)

In Washington, while presenting the plan, US president said his vision for Palestinians and Israelis presents “a win-win solution for both sides.” Standing alongside with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, president Trump said Palestinians should not miss their chance at independence.

In a way he suggested that this was their last best chance they should take. And, Mr. Trump again showed a great deal of optimism so unique to him expressing confidence that everything he does will be successful including some for years unsolvable problems.

“It’s going to work,” Trump said as he presented the proposal at a White House ceremony, DW (Deutsche Welle) reported quoting other news agencies.

“(Palestinian) President Abbas, I want you to know, that if you chose the path to peace, America and many other countries … we will be there to help you in so many different ways,” he said. “And we will be there every step of the way,” Trump said.

At the same time, obviously very pleased with this American approach Israeli prime minister Netanyahu said this is “a  great plan for Israel. It’s a great plan for peace.”

And Palestinian leaders complained – they were even not invited to attend the talks, so they

Mahmoud Abbas (Public domain photo for education only)

Mahmoud Abbas (Public domain photo for education only)

preemptively rejected the plan. Trump’s proposal made some concessions to Palestinians — but under terms that they have previously ruled out, such is accepting the West Bank settlements. Obviously, some things remain completely unacceptable to the Palestinians and controversial enough to stay ambiguous. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has said out loud “the Jerusalem is not for selling.”

 

World reacts differently

However, world leaders did not return the same measure of optimism or euphoric statements. Much different reactions came from ovaries metropolis, at least with mixed feelings, and somewhere with total ambiguity that bordered on a direct rejection of the plan. This mostly applies to the Arab world. No major US allies in the Middle East – Saudi Arabia, Jordan or Kuwait have responded positively, and their ambassadors were not present at the White House when Trump’s plan was announced.

Only United Arab Emirates issued very positive reaction colling US plan “e very serious initiative”. UAE  ambassador to the United States wrote on Twitter his country “appreciates continued US efforts to reach a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.” UAE believes that Palestinians and Israelis can achieve lasting peace and genuine coexistence with the support of the international community, their US envoy wrote on his Twitter account.

Ambassadors of UAE, Bahrein and Oman in Washington were the only representatives from major Arab states that were attended the ceremony in the White House.

Among the first to condemn the US plan on Middle East – as expected was Iran. Its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei immediately opposed all of what President Trump said at the White House, speaking about the prospect for Israel and for Palestine. Teheran said president Trump ’s plan  was doomed to fail calling all Muslim countries all over the world to oppose it.

“The devilish and vicious policy of America toward Palestine called the ‘deal of the century’ will never materialize…all Muslim nations will confront them and will not let it materialize,” Khamenei wrote on Twitter – the txt that was widely transmitted globally.

Mild and measured statement addressed to “brotherly Palestinian people” issued by Foreign Ministry of Saudi Arabia also noted that the Kingdom do “appreciate the efforts of President Trump’s Administration to develop a comprehensive peace plan between the Palestinian and Israeli sides;.” Saudis also encouraged “the start of direct peace negotiation between the Palestinian and israeli sides, under the auspices of the United States.”

Erdogan goes his way

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (CNN image for education only)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (CNN image for education only)

In his populistic manner Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the Trump’s plan ”will not serve peace and resolution” in the region, calling it “a plan to ignore the rights of the Palestinians and legitimize Israel’s occupation,” Al-Jazeera reported.

“Jerusalem is sacred to Muslims. The plan to give Jerusalem to Israel can never be accepted,” Mr. Erdogan told reporters on Wednesday, while returning from Senegal.

And official Ankara through Turkey’s foreign ministry described US plan as an “annexation plan that aims to kill the two-state solution and seize Palestinian lands”. They called the a ”stillborn”. The Palestinian people and their lands “cannot be bought,” the ministry said in a statement.

Very lukewarm if not cold was Europe stating some cautious and reservation toward this Trump’s plane for Middle East. German foreign minister Heiko Maas has called for a “balanced approach” to break the deadlock. ”Only a negotiated two-state solution, acceptable to both sides, can lead to a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians,” he said, as DW (Deutsche Welle) quoted him.

Maas also said that Trump’s proposal raised questions “about the involvement of the conflicting

Heiko Maas foreign minister of Germany (Courtesy photo for education only)

Heiko Maas foreign minister of Germany (Courtesy photo for education only)

parties in a negotiation process and their relationship to recognized international parameters and legal positions.”

Other political factors also doubted that Trump’s plan would achieve sustainable peace in the Middle East, warning the “Trump’s two-state solution” would deviate from the one envisioned by the European Union (EU) and the German government.

On their side European Union asked for more time in order this US plan to be study the proposal carefully. EU urged Israelis and Palestinians to to get acquainted with the plan in detail. Josep Borrell Fontelles High Representative of the European Union for security and cooperation, in fact the EU’s highest-ranking diplomat, said EU will “study and assess” Trump’s plan. This approach will on the basis of EU commitment to a “negotiated and viable two-state solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis,” DW reported.

 

Paris, London and Moscow

 

It looks like official Paris was more open to US efforts to come up with a plan: “France welcomes President Trump’s efforts and will study closely the peace program he has presented,” said a statement from the French foreign ministry. But Paris also said it would look closer at the details of the plan. France also stands at the two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.

London, which is departing from the EU on Friday (31. January), was the only warm toward Washington’s proposals, and in a way saluted it. According to the various press sources UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson already spoke to president Trump, and told him the plan “could prove a positive step forward.”

“This is clearly a serious proposal, reflecting extensive time and effort,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement, DW reported.

Moskva (WPP photo archive)

Moscow (WPP photo archive)

Moscow has approached to the Trump’s plan with much more caution and without offering any ratings on it. They said though further negotiation of Israeli and Palestinians with mutual indulgence is a must. Russia said it would assess the proposal and called on Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate directly to find a “mutually acceptable compromise.”

Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov also said, “We do not know if the American proposal is mutually acceptable or not. We must wait for the reaction of the parties,” DW reported.

In any case, indeed, more time is needed to study this plan. Analysts say it also remains to be seen whether this plan was announced on purpose right now in an election year in America – more for political than strategic reasons.

What is still frightening is that few can guess what are the next steps in the region full with the tensions and political uncertainty on all sides.

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