‘A giant step toward peace’? Critics, including members of the Israeli Knesset, see the US peace plan as a failure.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump during the joint press event announcing the Mideast peace plan.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Donald Trump during the joint press event announcing the Mideast peace plan.
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Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images
  • The Trump administration unveiled its Israel-Palestine peace plan on Tuesday.
  • The proposal, lauded by some, prompted criticism from Israelis, Palestinians and others.
  • The deal allows Israel to annex portions of the West Bank already under its control, which is more than 60% of the occupied territory.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The White House’s long-awaited “deal of the century,” unveiled on Tuesday, is the basis for a “win-win” settlement between Israel and Palestine, according to President Donald Trump.

But many on both pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian sides are skeptical of the plan – including members of Israel’s Knesset, who vote on the plan next week. (It’s unclear what legal power the vote would hold.)

Ayman Odeh, a member of the Knesset, which is Israel’s legislative body, was heavily critical of the deal in a conversation with Insider. Odeh is the leader of the left-leaning Hadash party, which often votes and acts in opposition to Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party.

“This plan is an attack on the rights of Palestinians in the occupied territories and the rights of Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel,” said Odeh, who is the head of the Arab Joint List party alliance.

“The only strategy guiding it is a maximum amount of land with a minimum amount of Palestinians. This isn’t a two-state solution; it’s one state with two types of citizenship – that’s called Apartheid.”

The right-wing American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, did not explicitly endorse the plan, even though it is typically a stalwart supporter of Trump’s foreign policy toward Israel-Palestine. J Street, which describes itself as”pro-Israel and pro-peace” lobbying group, called the deal a “sham.”

On Wednesday, J Street released a statement saying the plan offers “zero chance of serving as the basis for renewed diplomacy to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

A different way forward or a difficult way forward?

“Today Israel is taking a giant step toward peace,” Trump declared during Tuesday’s joint press event for the plan as Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, stood beside him.

The proposal envisions a “different” way forward, in the words of Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law who also serves as his adviser and helped create the plan.

The White House proposes giving a portion of Israeli-occupied land to the Palestinians. It would impose a four-year freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank. And it invokes the language of the two-state solution, acknowledging Palestinians’ pursuit of statehood.

If Palestinians were to accept the conditions, the deal would give them $50 billion over a decade, and the US would pursue prosperity measures like halving unemployment and poverty, which are high in the West Bank and even higher in the Gaza Strip.

The Wall Street Journal editorial board on Tuesday called Trump’s proposal even-handed – so much so that “settler groups are criticizing it.” The White House’s proposal “is a high-profile endorsement of the two-state solution.”

Yet, “the Palestinians see this as a non-starter,” Arik Ascherman, an Israeli rabbi and the executive director of human rights organization Torat Tzedek, told Insider.

“This plan is going to leave Israel in effective control over the entire [occupied] territory,” he said, adding that “it doesn’t seem to me that this plan is going to end the occupation” of the West Bank.

The head of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Yousef Munayyer, agreed that the plan is a non-starter, saying that such a description would be “generous.”

“It has nothing to do whatsoever with advancing peace,” Munayyer told Insider. “But the principle here [in the current plan] is the same principle that underpinned previous American approaches. That principle is that the rights of the Palestinian people are inferior to the rights of Israelis.”

Ahmed Abu Artema, a Palestinian journalist who lives in Gaza, said the Palestinians are clear-eyed about what the deal does – and does not – offer.

“Trump’s deal leaves us with no illusion that there will be successful peacemaking in the current political reality,” he told Insider. “The Palestinians have no option but to face the current reality courageously.”

The Palestinians will continue to seek “freedom and equality for everyone,” Artema added.

As Trump and Netanyahu put their deal forward, support for a two-state solution continues to grow

The “deal of the century” allows Israel to annex portions of the West Bank already under its control, which is over 60% of the land, according to United Nations data.

A 2020 poll by the Institute for National Security Studies, an Israeli think tank, found that more than half of Jewish Israelis support a two-state solution, and 45% oppose annexation of the West Bank. About one-quarter support annexing current Israeli settlements, which are illegal according to international law but not the US government. And 7% would approve annexation of the entire West Bank.

Netanyahu is reportedly seeking to pursue cabinet vote on annexation by February 2.

Some pro-Israel conservative groups are lauding the plan as a “win-win.”

As a close ally of Israel, the US is communicating its baseline requirements for a negotiated settlement to the Palestinians, according to the Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano.

The US peace plan is a clear, concrete message to the Palestinians not to “mess with Israel,” Carafano, a historian, told Insider.

“On the one hand, he [Trump] is putting a lot of external pressure on them [the Palestinians]. On the other hand, he is saying, ‘If you want to do a deal that’s good for you, here it is.'”

The plan represents “a serious US commitment to building the society and the future of the Palestinian people,” Carafano added.

A spokeswoman for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs echoed Carafano’s sentiment, adding that the plan is good for Israel because it recognizes Israel’s needs as a state.

“This deal strikes the right balance between Israel’s vital security and national interests and the Palestinians’ aspirations for self-determination,” Herscovitch told Insider.

Furthermore, Herscovitch said, the economic components of the plan are crucial for Palestinians. “The massive USD $50 billion investment plan promises prosperity for the Palestinian people and would create a positive change, which every Palestinian will feel.”

But others disagree. Munayyer, the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights chief, said that Palestinian “freedom is not for sale.”

“You can’t buy your way out of this, and it is at the end of the day fundamentally an issue of peoples’ basic rights being denied,” he added.

‘I don’t think there’s any doubt this is entirely political’

With some Israelis and virtually all Palestinians dissatisfied with the plan, many critics believe Tuesday’s announcement was concocted in a calculated move by Netanyahu to bolster his support before the next election and by Trump to draw attention away from his impeachment trial. Hours before the press conference with the two leaders, Netanyahu was indicted in three corruption cases.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that this is entirely political on the part of both leaders,” Hussein Ibish, a senior resident scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told Insider’s John Haltiwanger on Tuesday.

“Trump is facing impeachment, and he gets to pose as the peacemaking statesman and visionary, soaring high above the sordid wrangling in the Senate, at the same time appealing to his hard-core evangelical base,” he continued. And “Netanyahu gets to pose as the statesman who can deliver annexation, Greater Israel and freedom from Oslo and the two-state solution at last,”