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Trump to announce details of 'deal of the century' before Israeli leaders' visit

No Palestinian leaders invited to White House for consultations as Abbas warns administration of crossing 'red lines'
Palestinian protesters burn cutouts of Trump, Pompeo and Netanyahu during demonstration against 'Deal of the Century' (AFP/File photo)

Donald Trump said on Thursday he will publish details of his controversial Middle East peace plan, dubbed the "deal of the century", prior to a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his challenger in a forthcoming election, Benny Gantz, to the White House on Tuesday.

No Palestinian leaders have been invited to Washington to discuss the long-dormant scheme.

Israeli media reported on Thursday that, according to preliminary plans, Israel would claim sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and immediately annex all but 15 illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, as well as the land linking them.

Jerusalem would be declared the capital of Israel, while the creation of a demilitarised Palestinian state would be agreed to at a later time.

According to Reuters, Trump discussed the timing of the plan's release with two architects of the plan, senior advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, on Air Force One while returning to Washington from Switzerland on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to the Miami area for a political event, Trump said Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first, but that "it's actually very positive for them."

"It's a great plan," said Trump, who will meet with Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday. "It's a plan that really would work."

Still, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned that such a plan would result in the dissolution of the Palestinian government, requiring Israel "to assume its full responsibilities as an occupying power". 

“We warn Israel and the American administration against crossing the red lines," Abbas said in a statement. 

Done deal: How the peace process sold out the Palestinians

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Done deal: How the peace process sold out the Palestinians
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Middle East Eye's "Done Deal" series examines how many of the elements of US President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century" reflect a reality that already exists on the ground.

It looks at how Palestinian territory has already been effectively annexed, why refugees have no realistic prospect of ever returning to their homeland, how the Old City of Jerusalem is under Israeli rule, how financial threats and incentives are used to undermine Palestinian opposition to the status quo, and how Gaza is kept under a state of permanent siege.

Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List, an alliance of parties representing Palestinian citizens of Israel in parliament, also flatly rejected details of the plan, Haaretz reported. 

Odeh said the Israeli government has long understood the path to peace, but instead prefers "settlements in the West Bank over ending the occupation and providing a future of peace to our children."    

Trump's 'deal of the century': 17 things we learned
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"A prime minister that is charged with corruption and a president that is in the midst of an impeachment trial are trying to save one another while carrying out a dangerous political move that would subject the Palestinian people living in the [occupied territories] to Israeli military control for years to come," Odeh said. 

The Palestinian leadership has repeatedly boycotted any participation in the Trump administration's Middle East plan, refusing to meet with US officials about the deal, which it has slammed as impossibly biased.

The scheme, headed by Trump's son-in-law Kushner, saw economic components initially launched in a much-ridiculed June 2019 conference in Bahrain, but the highly anticipated political portion of the plan has been continuously postponed

Trump told an audience of conservative Jewish supporters in December he had been advised that achieving peace between Israel and the Palestinians would be the hardest task he faced as president, but that he and Kushner were trying.

"If Jared Kushner can't do it, it can't be done," Trump said at the time.