UPDATED: (Jerusalem, Israel) — Historic. Dramatic. Highly controversial. And full of surprises. That’s how I’d characterize the roll out of the so-called “Deal of the Century.”
“All previous generations from Lyndon Johnson tried and bitterly failed,” the President said. “But I was not elected to do small things, or shy away from big problems.”
EXCLUSIVE — FIRST ARAB REACTION: Just received a text from a senior Arab Muslim official in the region who was watching the White House event live in his home country.
- Called it a “very smart introduction to the Deal of the Century.”
- Liked that President Trump is “mentioning the two states and sending a caring message to the Palestinians.”
- Said “there is a need to gain the hearts and the minds of the general Palestinian people — they don’t see any future for themselves right now.”
UPDATE — MORE ARAB REACTIONS:
- Palestinian Authority: “We say 1,000 ‘no’s to this deal,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said (Jerusalem Post)
- Palestinians immediately began mobilizing against the plan, Reuters reports — thousands turning out on streets, rioting, burning flags and more.
- And yet, Ambassadors from three Arab countries attended the White House ceremony (see below), and several Arab governments are speaking positively of the new U.S.-led peace effort.
- Saudi Arabia: The Saudi Foreign Ministry Tuesday night released a quite positive statement on the White House peace plan. They thanked President Trump and his administration for their efforts to make peace between Israel and the Palestinians. They also urged the Palestinian leadership to take the plan seriously and return to direct negotiations. Based on my meetings with HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and other senior Saudi officials in two trips to the Kingdom over the past 18 months, I am very encouraged by this initial response.
- United Arab Emirates: Sent its Ambassador to the White House ceremony. Ambassador called the Trump peace plan a “serious initiative” that “offers an important starting point for a return to negotiations within a US-led international framework.”
- Bahrain: Sent its Ambassador to the White House ceremony. “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs commends the United States of America for its determined efforts to advance the peace process, and expresses its aspiration for the parties concerned to study the plan put forward by the United States of America, and to begin direct negotiations under the auspices of the United States of America to reach an agreement that meets the aspirations of the Palestinian and Israeli people in achieving a comprehensive and just peace between them, which leads to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state and supports security and peace that benefits all states in the region and their people.”
- Oman: Sent its Ambassador to the White House ceremony.
- Egypt: “Egypt called on Tuesday on Palestinians and Israelis to carefully consider a peace plan announced by U.S. President Donald Trump, with a view to resuming negotiations,” Reuters reported. “Egypt calls on the two relevant parties to undertake a careful and thorough consideration of the U.S. vision to achieve peace and open channels of dialogue, under U.S. auspices, for the resumption of negotiations,” a statement from the foreign ministry said. (read full statement posted on Foreign Ministry’s Facebook page)
- Morocco: Statement from Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Kingdom of Morocco: “Morocco appreciates the peace efforts of the Trump Administration and wishes that a constructive peace process be launched . . . Already, Morocco has noted elements of convergence with the principles and options that it has always defended in this matter: These include the two-state solution.”
- Kuwait: “Kuwait’s foreign ministry also said on Wednesday it ‘highly appreciates’ US efforts to ‘end the over-70-year Arab-Israeli conflict, that has caused bitter sufferings to the Palestinian people and undermined regional security and stability,’” reported Arab News.
- Qatar: Even Qatar, which is an ally of Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, put out a statement of support. “The State of Qatar welcomes all efforts aiming towards a longstanding and just peace in the occupied Palestinian territories. It also appreciates the endeavors of President Trump and the current US administration to find solutions for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, all solutions should be consistent with international law and the relevant UN resolutions.”
(photo: Jason Greenblatt, one of the architects of the plan, with the Ambassadors of Oman, the UAE, and Bahrain)
Okay, some facts, then some analysis:
- Here’s the full 181-page plan — including first detailed maps ever released.
- President Trump called plan “win-win” with a “realistic” plan and pathway for “two states.” Called Israel a “light to the nations,” referencing Scripture. Said the Palestinian people deserve better than they have.
- President said Israel will control the Jordan Valley, keep all its settlements in Judea and Samaria and have “full security.” Said: “All humanity should be able to enjoy the glories of the Holy Land. This part of the world is forever connected to the human soul and the human spirit. These ancient lands should not be symbols of conflict, but eternal symbols of peace.”
- Israel gets a lot of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) — but the Palestinians are compensated with large new tracts of territory in the Negev, near Egyptian border. (see map)
- Plan will create a Palestinian state which can be achieved if Palestinians “renounce terror” — won’t allow return to bombings and violence. Wants “very capable” Palestinians to have better lives, because “that’s only fair.”
- Called for 4-year freeze in Israel settlement activity, doubling of Palestinian territory.
- Jerusalem will be Israel’s undivided capital.
- However, President added Palestinians will have capital in East Jerusalem and U.S. will have Embassy there.
- President added that Jerusalem is already “liberated.” Said it’s “time for the Muslim world to fix the mistake it made in 1948 when it decided to attack Israel — it’s time.”
- U.S. and Arab states ready to invest $50 billion in new Palestinian economy to create jobs and hope.
- President worries this may be Palestinians “last chance” for state.
- President spoke highly of Jordan’s King Abdullah II — “a very good man” — with whom the U.S. wants to work. Added that U.S. will work to “maintain status quo” to “protect the holy sites,” including the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
- Even while speaking of Israel’s “rich Biblical history,” President Trump gave a warm and very special “thank you” to the ambassadors of Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates for coming to the unveiling the White House peace plan ceremony and for all they are doing to advance peace — this was historic for them to be there and very encouraging.
- Netanyahu fully endorsed the plan — raved about it, in fact. Said it will keep all Israelis safe. Said he’s ready to begin negotiations with Palestinian.
- Netanyahu stopped in mid-speech to give a shout-out to the ambassadors of the Gulf countries of Oman, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates — men he clearly knows and has affection for — a dramatic and touching moment.
- Excellent roll out event.
- I was very happy that three Arab Ambassadors were there — two of whom are dear friends — and that Trump and Bibi gave them very warm and special shout-outs and that they received thunderous applause. Incredibly important.
- Overall, most grassroots Evangelicals will be very happy because they trust Trump and because Bibi (and Gantz) are so positive about it.
- However, some Evangelical leaders don’t want any Palestinian state whatsoever — one of them is Pastor John Hagee. Given that there are 8 million members in his Christians United For Israel, he’s a major player. Hagee and others will be unhappy about Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, as well.
- However, as I’ve been telling senior White House and State officials for months, these two points are vitally important. Why? Because there’s no chance Abbas accepts this deal — but including the two-state and East Jerusalem capital language makes it much easier for other Arab states to embrace the deal.
That’s enough for now. More later. Please keep praying for the peace of Jerusalem.
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