U.S. President Donald Trump's newly unveiled peace plan may not lead the Palestinians to an end of hostilities with Israel, but it has brought harmony to warring factions that have split Palestinian politics for more than a decade.
In a rare show of unity in Ramallah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas invited all the factions under one roof for an emergency meeting that coincided with the U.S. announcement.
Those invited included Hamas, whose bloody takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007 led to a bitter split with Abbas' Fatah movement that has yet to be healed.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Maliki says the show of unity signals a new dawn.
“All factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were present. They have declared their complete support and endorsed the statement made by President Mahmoud Abbas,” he says.
“This is a really good start. This shows right now that we are embarking on a totally new chapter.”
According to Maliki, the long-awaited peace plan, finally unveiled at the White House on Tuesday, will fail.
“They can’t implement the plan without the participation of the Palestinian side, and the Palestinians say no,” Maliki says from the Muqata compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, shortly after the proposal was made public.
Appearing at a podium in the East Room of the White House, President Trump said the plan signified a “new dawn.”
Standing next to him was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and although the room was full, there were no Palestinians present.
Abbas announced that the PA would now “change its role,” although he had few other options.
“Hearing this nonsense, we say a thousand times no, no, no to the deal of the century,” he said, using a term President Trump had once used to describe a still-coalescing plan he felt that no one would want to turn down.
The peace plan, crafted by Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, would allow for a Palestinian state under strict conditions. It recognizes Israeli sovereignty over the whole of Jerusalem, despite also pledging to make its eastern section the capital of a future Palestinian state. It also gives Israel full control over its settlements in the West Bank.
Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative political party, says the U.S. proposal violates international law.
“This deal, and the map that was produced [of territory to be divided under the plan], only creates a system of ghettos and enclaves, [placing the] Palestinians in an apartheid system,” he says.
In Ramallah and other cities in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, thousands of furious Palestinians took to the streets following the White House announcement, slamming the plan and saying it fell short of international standards.
The proposal also calls for a future Palestinian state to be demilitarized.
Trump, who is facing impeachment hearings in the Senate, has promised $50 billion in investments and mega projects for the Palestinians.
Abbas hit back by saying that “Jerusalem is not for sale; our rights are not for sale.”
Azzam al-Ahmad, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, said the PA will soon stop its security coordination with Israel, although this will “take time.”
He also noted with displeasure the presence in the White House's East Room of ambassadors from three Arab nations – Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates - for the unveiling of the plan.
“This is a departure from all Arab decisions on legitimacy, and a departure from the  Arab Peace Initiative, which they approved,” he said. “[These countries] said there will be no recognition or normalization with Israel before ending the occupation and the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
Turkey has labeled the U.S. plan “stillborn,” and Iran said it was “doomed to fail.” Jordan’s Foreign Ministry said an independent Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 borders was “the only path to a comprehensive and lasting peace.”
Ahmad expressed appreciation for the Jordanian stance.
“Jordan issued a statement that renewed its firm position, and we totally trust it. They are 100% honest and committed. The Palestinian and Jordanian positions are one and the same,” he said.
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman phoned Abbas and stressed “the kingdom’s steadfast stance on the Palestinian issue and the rights of the Palestinian people,” according to reports. But Egypt, another Arab state seen as a staunch ally of Washington, urged “a careful and thorough examination of the US vision.”
The Palestinian leadership is now shifting its focus toward the Arab world, calling for an emergency meeting of the Arab League this Saturday at its headquarters in Cairo.
Yet Nasser al-Shaer, a member of Hamas and a former deputy prime minister, said the Palestinians were still counting on the international community.
“We need to build on the positions of Russia and the European Union, which see Trump’s step as unilateral and going against international legitimacy and UN resolutions.”
He believes that without support from these countries, the U.S. proposal will find no takers in the Arab world.
The PLO’s Ahmad expressed a conviction that the renewed unity among Palestinians can be leveraged to great advantage in facing down the US plan.
“We are confident that we will succeed,” he stated, “and that Trump’s vision will end up in the trash bin.”
Article written by Mohammad Al-Kassim. Reprinted with permission from The Media Line