Democrats slam Trump’s Israel-Palestine plan, calling it ‘unacceptable’
NEW YORK - With US President Donald Trump hailing his “deal of the century” as a historic opportunity to achieve peace between Palestine and Israel, Democratic members of Congress denounced the plan that has been rejected by Palestinians.
Trump revealed the details of the plan on Tuesday in a press conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Several Democratic senators, including some top contenders for the party’s presidential nomination, sent a letter to Trump criticizing his administration’s peace plan for the Middle East, calling it a “one-sided proposal” conceived “without any Palestinian involvement or support.”
“Unilateral implementation of this one-sided proposal will risk eliminating any remaining prospects for achievement of a peaceful and viable two-state solution,” said the letter signed by Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Amy Klobuchar, Chris Van Hollen, Sherrod Brown, Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Patrick Leahy, Sheldon Whitehouse, Tammy Baldwin, Jack Reed and Tom Carper.
Sanders, Ms. Warren and Ms. Klobuchar are running to win the Democratic party’s nomination ahead of the 2020 US elections.
The plan 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 materializes – will be demilitarized and without sovereignty over its air space and territorial waters, experts say.
In a statement, former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat who is also a candidate for president, also characterized the Trump plan as “a political stunt that could spark unilateral moves to annex territory and set back peace even more.”
Senator Sanders, an avowed leftist, called the plan “unacceptable”, saying 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.”
Sanders’ fellow presidential candidate, Ms. Warren, a progressive politician, 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 destabilization 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”.
This “plan” greenlights the permanent annexation of illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank & takes no steps towards securing peace in the region.
Pramila Jaypal, a Congresswoman of Indian origin and 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, Muslim Congresswoman 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 Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, was formally indicted on corruption charges.
“This political stunt gets us no closer to peace or justice,” Ms. 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.
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