Trump rolls out 'deal of the century' with Israel, annexation of West Bank

President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan.
President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020, in the East Room of the White House to unveil details of the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Plan. | Official White House Photo/Shealah Craighead

President Trump rolled out what is being called the "deal of the century" with Israel that includes annexation of parts of the West Bank and creates the possibility of a Palestinian state.

The proposal has reportedly been in development since 2017 and consists of over 50 pages of the administration's ideas about resolving border disputes and Jerusalem's status.

"[T]he plan envisions Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including areas Palestinians claim as the capital of a future independent state. The Palestinians would have control over some neighborhoods on outer parts of East Jerusalem and might control 70% to 80% of the West Bank," The Wall Street Journal reported.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been in Washington, D.C., meeting with Trump this week, has pledged that Israel will annex much of the Jordan Valley, which borders Jordan and would effectively encircle any future Palestinian state. Under the proposed plan, according to Trump administration officials, neither Israelis nor Palestinians will be forced to leave their homes as Israel expands its borders.

Trump also met with Benny Gantz, Israel opposition leader, in a separate meeting. The president reportedly told both Netanyahu and Gantz, according to one U.S. official, that "you have six weeks to get this going — if you want it."

“This is an opportunity for peace,” Trump said Monday, standing beside Netanyahu at the White House.

“We’ll show a plan that has been worked on by everyone. We’ll see if it catches hold. If it does, that’d be great. If it doesn’t, it’s OK.”

In the East Room of the White House Tuesday afternoon, Trump said in a joint address with Netanyahu that the agreement "is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own."

"These ancient lands should not be symbols of conflict but eternal symbols of peace. All humanity should be able to enjoy the glories of the Holy Land," he noted.

According to The Jerusalem Post, Trump is hoping to have support from both Netanyahu and Gantz for what he is calling “The Deal of the Century” as the two men face off in an upcoming March 2 election. The state of Israel has been roiled in contentious politics in the past year. Parliamentary coalitions have not been able to be maintained as Netanyahu faced charges of corruption.

The Israeli prime minister was formally indicted Tuesday on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust with the Jerusalem District Court. The move came mere hours after Netanyahu said he was withdrawing his request for parliamentary immunity in the case.

Under Trump's plan, any Palestinian state would have to be demilitarized and a tunnel is to be built connecting the West Bank and Gaza.

Some evangelical supporters of Israel are hailing the development.

Mike Evans, founder of the Friends of Zion Museum in Jerusalem and a faith adviser to Trump, was quoted as saying in The Jerusalem Post Monday that the plan “does not give the Palestinians any air space [or] the ability to establish treaties” and that for evangelicals the proposal “is everything we were hoping for – everything.”

In December 2017 Trump took the historic step of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and subsequently moved the U.S. embassy there, officially opening it on May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of former president Harry S. Truman's recognition of Israel as a sovereign nation-state. In March 2019, the United States also formally recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

Reacting to the announcement, Messianic Jewish scholar Michael Brown said that he knows some believers in Jesus are against any potential two-state solution because dividing the land is, as some interpret it, would violate God's Word. And yet, because it has the support of Israeli leaders and the U.S. ambassador to Israel, he tends to view it favorably.

"Overall, I know that lasting, true peace can only come to the region through Jesus the Messiah. But if there can be temporary respites that help all the inhabitants of the region, so be it," Brown commented.

He added, however, that in light of history and the requirements the Palestinians would have to abide by, he does not expect them to accept the proposal.

"Frankly, without massive pressure from the populace as a whole, joined by other Muslim nations, I do not see this happening. And that is the crux of the problem."

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