Trump’s Give-and-Take Plan to Smooth Way for Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks

The Trump transition team responded to Mahmoud Abbas’ threats on Jerusalem on Jan. 10 with a promptness that surprised the Palestinian Authority’s Chairman’s office in Ramallah – although it was the reverse of the reply he wanted.
Abbas had warned the US president-elect that the transfer of the US embassy to Jerusalem would have dire consequences. The Palestinians would go back on their recognition of Israel, end peace talks (what peace talks?) and call on the Arab League to order the recall of all Arab and Muslim ambassadors from Washington.
“A Palestinian state is meaningless without Jerusalem,” he wrote.
The reply that came back from Trump Tower made the following points:
1. The incoming US administration stood by Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to transfer its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – but no date had been set for the move.
debkafile revealed on Monday, Jan. 10 in an exclusive headline story, that the plan under discussion by the president-elect and his advisers is to ceremonially set the cornerstone at the allotted embassy site in Jerusalem. Further construction would then be frozen, contingent on the Palestinians abandoning their anti-Israel drive at United Nations agencies and world capitals. Continuation of these campaigns to vilify Israel would prompt the start of construction.
2. The site allotted for the embassy compound is located in West Jerusalem over which the Palestinians recognized Israeli sovereignty, as part of the 1993 Oslo peace framework accords. The Trump message stressed that since the Palestinians never abrogated that recognition, their resistance to the embassy’s transfer is unfounded.
3. Their refusal to acknowledge Israel’s sovereignty in West Jerusalem is, moreover, tantamount to reneging on their recognition of Israel as a state. If that is their intention, then it is incumbent on the Palestinians to make their changed position public.
Abbas and his advisers found Trump’s message utterly unacceptable. They decided to simply disregard it and carry on with their outcry against the US embassy move to Jerusalem.
DEBKA Weekly’s intelligence sources also report that the Israeli government was not much happier with a set of proposals posted by Trump’s advisers to Jerusalem with a request for their comments. But they drew welcome elucidation of the goals sought by incoming administration from the statements made by designated Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at his confirmation hearing before the Senate on Wednesday, Jan. 11.
“Israel is, has always been, and remains our most important ally in the region,” he said, in answer to a question about the incoming administration’s Israel policy. “They’re important to our national security.”
In answer to another question, Tillerson said that the dispute could only be resolved in direct talks between the two parties, while America’s role was to create a “fruitful” context for such talks.
The Trump team’s proposals reaching Israel this week boiled down essentially to the scaling back of Israel’s military exclusivity in parts of Judea and Samaria and expanding Palestinian security access. In return, the Palestinians would have to abjure terrorism and other hostile strategies against Israel.
The format of Areas A, B and C, laid down in the 1993 Oslo peace framework accords, forms the basis of the Trump team’s proposals for Israel. This format is one of the few survivals of those accords up to the present day from waves of Palestinian terror. Areas A. B and C are also enshrined in various international documents.
Area A refers to the 18 percent of the territory Israel handed over to the civilian and security control of the Palestinian Authority. It covers all seven Palestinian towns and a number of villages. After Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2006, that enclave was incorporated in Area A, although it is ruled by the fundamentalist Palestinian Hamas – not the PA.
Area B covers 22 percent of the territory, which it was agreed should fall under PA civilian rule and Israel security control. It is off-limits to Palestinian security forces.
Area C – equal to 60 percent of the territory – is under Israeli civilian and security control. It covers the Jewish communities who have settled there, their road links, IDF bases and firing zones, and tracts of vacant land.
World governments often lump East Jerusalem in with the West Bank and therefore consider it part of Area C – a contention no Israeli government has accepted.
The Area C lands are contiguous, whereas Areas A and B are chopped up into segments by Area C.
The proposals floated by Trump’s advisers in their message to Israel call for the scaling down of its security presence in parts of Area B, and granting Palestinian security forces access and permission to move around between points.
But the most significant revision of the status quo in these proposals would affect Area C, one-fifth of which the Trump team suggests transferring to Palestinian Authority control. This would leave Israel with control of 40 percent of the West Bank.
To pay for these concessions, the Palestinians would be required to give up terror both in action and through their incessant incitement to hostility against Israel over their media, in their mosques and through their education system. They would also be required to halt their diplomatic campaigns against Israel in international forums, including the UN.
Taken together, the formula put forward by the Trump team follows the general lines of the Wye Plantation accord signed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the PLO chief Yasser Arafat at a White House ceremony on Oct. 23, 1998. That agreement was brokered by President Bill Clinton and signed in the presence of King Hussein of Jordan.
Like the Oslo Accord and other “peace” deals between Israel and the Palestinians, that document was soon reduced to ashes by the Second Palestinian Intifada of terror that was launched in September 2000 and ended only more than four years later in February 2005.
The entire Trump team’s package appears to DEBKA Weekly’s sources to be an attempt to nudge the Palestinians and Israelis into generating an environment of calm coexistence, preparatory to “fruitful” negotiations for a two-state solution, which would be left up to the two parties concerned.

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