'This is not a peace plan, it is theft': Democrats denounce Trump's Israel-Palestine plan
As Donald Trump hailed his so-called "deal of the century" as a historic opportunity to achieve peace between Palestinians and Israel, Democratic members of Congress poured scorn on the plan that has been rejected by Palestinians.
The proposal, which was drafted without the input of any Palestinian groups, allows Israel to keep all of its settlements in the West Bank and annex large parts of the Palestinian territories that it currently occupies.
While Trump has floated his proposal as a "realistic two-state solution", the plan itself says a Palestinian state - if it materialises - will be demilitarised and without sovereignty over its air space and territorial waters.
In a wave of criticism, many members of Congress denounced the plan as a unilateral attempt to end the chances of real Palestinian statehood.
'This political stunt gets us no closer to peace or justice'
- Rashida Tlaib
Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for president, said Washington must ensure a just agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
"Any acceptable peace deal must be consistent with international law and multiple UN resolutions," Sanders said.
"It 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."
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Sanders' fellow presidential candidate, progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren was also quick to denounce the proposed deal.
"Trump's 'peace plan' is a rubber stamp for annexation and offers no chance for a real Palestinian state," she said.
"Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn't diplomacy, it's a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form - and reverse any policy that supports it."
Senator Chris Van Hollen, a prominent Democrat, called the scheme an "anti-peace" plan.
"This one-sided proposal is a cynical maneuver calculated to be rejected by the Palestinians and then green-light illegal annexation," Van Hollen wrote in a series of tweets.
"It undermines decades of bipartisan US policy and international law. Far from the 'deal of the century' this is the 'disaster of the decade'."
Chris Murphy, a Senate Democrat and a vocal critic of Trump's foreign policy, also slammed the deal, saying that it compromises the long-term security of both the US and Israel.
"The unilateral annexation of the Jordan River valley and existing settlements, deemed illegal under US and international law, will set back the peace process decades," he said. "And it risks real violence and massive destabilisation inside places like Jordan."
Several Democrats in the House of Representatives also rejected the so-called "deal of the century".
Mark Pocan, the co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said the plan was a "massive step backwards".
Pramila Jaypal, the other co-chair of the progressive caucus, rejected labelling the proposal as a "peace plan".
"It is absurd to call Trump's plan a 'peace plan' when Palestinian voices were barred from the discussion," she said.
"Today’s announcement is further evidence of President Trump’s desire to support Netanyahu’s racist policies over basic human rights for Palestinians."
For her part, Representative Ilhan Omar said the proposal was "shameful and disingenuous".
"This is not a peace plan," she wrote on Twitter. "It is theft. It is erasure."
Palestinian-American Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib noted that the deal was released on the day that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was formally indicted on corruption charges.
"This political stunt gets us no closer to peace or justice," Tlaib said. "As a member of Congress, I consider it a non-starter."
Congressman Andy Levin, a Michigan Democrat, challenged Trump's assertion that the proposal will lead to a two-state solution.
Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, who represents a large Arab-American community around Detroit, said the plan "aggravates issues in the region" and fails to ensure a viable state for Palestinians.
"This proposal holds the potential to further the conflict and occupation and is not an earnest attempt at peace in the region," Dingell said in a statement.