Donald Trump has unveiled his long-awaited Middle East peace plan, saying the “realistic” two-state solution is a “win-win opportunity” for both Israel and the Palestinians.
Speaking at the White House, the US president said his administration’s vision would form the basis of direct negotiations between the two sides which was a “historic breakthrough”.
The proposal calls for the creation of a State of Palestine with its capital in parts of eastern Jerusalem and it more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control.
But it also recognises Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something which the Palestinians will almost certainly object to.
The Palestinians have already rejected the proposal, accusing Mr Trump of being biased in favour of Israel.
An official with the ruling Hamas group in Gaza called Mr Trump’s statement “aggressive” and said the Jerusalem plan was “nonsense”.
However, the US president, who has tweeted a conceptual map of how the two-state solution could look, said the deal was a “historic opportunity” for Palestinians to achieve an independent state of their own.
More from Donald Trump
Donald Trump unveils new Space Force logo – but Star Trek fans mock it
Palestinians clash with Israeli police after ‘peace plan’ leak
Trump impeachment trial: Restless senators seen with fidget spinners during hearing
‘How old is she?’ Donald Trump re-ignites Greta Thunberg feud
Trump impeachment: Republicans block Democrat bids for new evidence and witnesses
Trump impeachment trial: Parties clash over rules on day one of Senate hearing
The future Palestinian state would consist of the West Bank and Gaza, connected by a combination of roads, bridges and above-ground tunnels.
Under the plan, the US will recognise Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank, and in return Israel would accept a four-year freeze on the construction of its new settlements while Palestinian statehood was negotiated.
I will always stand with the State of Israel and the Jewish people. I strongly support their safety and security and their right to live within their historical homeland. It’s time for peace! pic.twitter.com/lKwQ9IKTUG
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2020
However, it was not immediately clear if the freeze could be extended if a final deal was not concluded in four years.
Mr Trump, speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel was taking a “giant step toward peace” and Palestinians deserved the chance for a better life.
The absence of Palestinians from Mr Trump’s announcement is likely to fuel criticism that the plan leans toward Israel’s needs rather than those of the Palestinians.
Mr Trump, who has already recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, claimed his vision will end the cycle of Palestinian dependence on charity and foreign aid, as he urged peaceful co-existence between the two sides.
The American leader said he told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that if he chooses peace then the US and other countries “will be there every step of the way to help”.
And urging peace in the region, Mr Trump said it was time for “this sad chapter in history to end”.
Mr Netanyahu said he has agreed to negotiate with the Palestinians because the peace plan “strikes a balance”.
He said “this is a historic day”, comparing the peace plan to former President Harry Truman’s recognition of the state of Israel in 1948.
“On this day, you became the first world leader to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage,” Mr Netanyahu added, using the biblical names for the West Bank.
The political outline goes further in concessions to the Palestinians than many analysts had believed was likely.
However, it would require them to accept conditions they have been previously unwilling to consider, such as accepting West Bank settlements.