January 30, 2020 / 3:16 PM / 22 days ago

Hamas' Meshaal says Palestinians working to foil Trump plan

DOHA (Reuters) - Palestinians around the world are uniting to thwart U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan, former Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said, criticizing Arab governments who supported the plan.

Tawfiq Abu Naeem, head of Hamas-run security forces, and his deputy Mahmoud Abu Watfa arrive to attend a training session by police recruits in Gaza City January 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

“We completely reject this deal and we are confident it will fail. But we will not wait for its failure, we will make it fail,” Meshaal told Reuters from his residence in Qatar’s capital Doha.

Trump’s plan, unveiled alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, envisages a two-state solution with Israel and a future Palestinian state living alongside each other, but with strict conditions that Palestinians have baulked at.

He proposed a demilitarized Palestinian state, with borders drawn to meet Israeli security needs, while granting U.S. recognition of Israeli settlements on occupied West Bank land and of Jerusalem as Israel’s indivisible capital.

Meshaal said Palestinians were talking with each other about how to mobilize against what Trump has called the “deal of the century”.

“The consensual Palestinian position is to reject it,” he said. “We have begun positive steps to unify the Palestinian side. God willing, it will cause this deal to fail.”

On Meshaal’s wall is a huge cityscape photograph of Jerusalem, prominently featuring the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, two Muslim holy places that Palestinians seek as part of the capital of a future state in the east of the city.

RETURN TO THE “TRADITIONAL” STANCE

Trumps’ plan diverges from previous U.S. policy and a 2002 Arab League-endorsed initiative that offered Israel normal relations in return for an independent Palestinian state and full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in a 1967 war.

Meshaal criticized certain Arab states for turning their back on the Palestinian cause in endorsing the proposal, saying this was “not an honorable position”.

At the plan’s unveiling, Trump publicly thanked the ambassadors of the Gulf states of Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates for their support of peace efforts and for attending the event.

Some analysts say Arab powers appear to be prioritizing close ties with the United States that are vital to countering Iran over traditional unswerving support for the Palestinians in their reaction Trump’s plan.

“No country, Arab, Muslim or international, has the right to accept something the Palestinians have rejected,” said Meshaal, calling for a “return to the traditional, Arab, Islamic position which holds onto Palestinian rights”.

The Hamas movement, in which Meshaal remains a prominent and influential figure, controls the Palestinian enclave of Gaza.

Slideshow (14 Images)

Meshaal said the Trump deal was not new, but was launched now to coincide with domestic politics in the United States and Israel.

Trump is going through an impeachment trial, and Netanyahu has been formally indicted in court on corruption charges. Both men deny any wrongdoing. Netanyahu also faces a difficult election in March.

“Our people have thwarted many poisonous deals and settlement plans that others have tried to impose on our people,” said Meshaal. “The righteous are stronger than the unrighteous.”

Reporting by Eman Kamel in Doha; Writing by Lisa Barrington; Editing by Alex Richardson

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