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Trump Calls For Two-State Solution, Says 'Undivided' Jerusalem To Be Israeli Capital


U.S. President Donald Trump (right) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hold a joint news conference to discuss a new Middle East peace-plan proposal in the White House in Washington on January 28.

WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Donald Trump has endorsed a "contiguous," independent Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem, but he made the move contingent upon Palestinians accepting several moves seen by many as difficult, as he unveiled his much-anticipated Middle East peace plan.

Standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump on January 28 said the plan more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it also granted Israeli sovereignty over major settlement areas in the West Bank -- something certain to anger Palestinians.

He also said Jerusalem would be Israel's "undivided" capital under the plan, although he also spoke of the capital of a future Palestinian state being in parts of "eastern Jerusalem."

In exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four-year freeze on new settlement activity while the process of negotiating a Palestinian statehood takes place.

Trump, who asserted that the plan was the "most detailed" ever, said Palestinians had been used as "pawns" by others in the region and that it was time for this to end.

"We have an obligation to humanity to get [this deal] done," Trump said.

Details of the plan were released on the White House website.

Trump later tweeted a map of "what a future State of Palestine can look like, with a capital in parts of East Jerusalem."

Palestinian leaders had rejected the so-called "deal of the century" before its release, saying Trump had been biased in favor of Israel and that the United States was no longer an impartial player in the dispute.

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmud Abbas, speaking after an emergency meeting in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, flatly rejected Trump's plan, saying his response was "a thousand nos," adding that the plan will be sent to "the trash bin of history."

The meeting included the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Hamas also rejected the plan, with senior official Khalil al-Hayya telling AFP, "We warn the whole world not to go along with this deal because we reject it as the Palestinian people and we will resist it in all forms."

Trump in the past had not endorsed a two-state solution to ending the decades-long conflict -- the longtime international formula that would eventually see a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel.

But in his White House comments, he did allow for a two-state solution and said Palestinian territory would be "contiguous." Currently, it is divided between the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with no connecting land.

Under the deal, the various areas would be connected by a combination of above-ground roads and tunnels.

Netanyahu has called for annexing parts of the West Bank and extending Israeli sovereignty on all its settlements in the areas captured by Israeli forces in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Netanyahu's spokesman, Jonathan Urich said the Israeli leader will ask his Cabinet on February 2 to approve his plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The Jordan Valley in particular is considered a vital security asset by the Israelis.

Under the plan, security responsibility for the Jordan Valley would remain with Israel for the foreseeable future but could be scaled back as the Palestinian state develops.

The U.S. president said that Jerusalem would stand as Israel’s "undivided" capital, but he left open the possibility that "eastern Jerusalem" would serve as the future Palestinian state's capital -- and that Washington would "happily" build its embassy there.

Palestinians were angered by Trump's previous decision to transfer the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state. Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and declared the entire city as its capital, a move not recognized by the international community.

Following Trump's remarks, Netanyahu called it "a historic day" and heavily praised the U.S. president and his team for delivering the deal.

"On this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel's sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage," he said, using the Biblical names for the West Bank.

Israeli leaders have agreed to negotiate in the future on the basis of the Trump plan and agreed to the map, the officials said. Israel's agreement on statehood for Palestinians is dependent on a security arrangement to protect Israelis, they added.

Israel will also take steps to ensure Muslim access to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem and respect Jordan's role regarding holy sites, Trump and other officials said.

Palestinians would also be required to take steps toward self-government, including the safeguarding of respect for human rights, press freedom, and credible institutions.

Trump said that should Palestinians "choose peace," Washington will be there to help it "every step of the way," and he touted a previously announced $50 billion investment package to aid an independent state.

An Israeli spokesman said Netanyahu would travel to Russia on January 29 to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on the proposals.

With reporting by AP, AFP, dpa, and Reuters