'Slap of the century': Palestinians reject Trump Mideast plan

RAMALLAH/GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan the “slap of the century” on Tuesday as thousands of Palestinians held protests in Gaza and the West Bank.

A Palestinian man watches a television screen broadcasting the announcement of Mideast peace plan by U.S. President Donald Trump, in a coffee shop in Hebron in the Israeli-occupied West Bank January 28, 2020. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

The Islamist group Hamas said it would confront Trump’s “aggressive” proposals and accused him of talking “nonsense” about Jerusalem.

Confounding some predictions, Trump’s plan proposed a “two-state” solution to the decades-long conflict, which envisages Israel and a future Palestinian state living alongside each other, with conditions.

The plan would see a Palestinian state with its capital in “eastern Jerusalem”, though in an area cut off from much of the city by an Israeli military barrier.

Palestinians reject any proposal that would not see a Palestinian capital in all of East Jerusalem, which includes the walled Old City and numerous sites holy to Muslims, Jews and Christians.

Trump, in his remarks at the White House earlier on Tuesday, said that Jerusalem would remain the undivided capital of Israel.

“I say to Trump and (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu: Jerusalem is not for sale, all our rights are not for sale and are not for bargain. And your deal, the conspiracy, will not pass,” Abbas said in a televised address in Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Abbas said it was “impossible for any Palestinian, Arab, Muslim or Christian child to accept” a state without Jerusalem. Israel captured the eastern part of the city along with the West Bank and Gaza in a 1967 war.

The Palestinians would only accept negotiations based on international law and supported by U.N. Security Council resolutions, said Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority has limited self-rule in parts of the West Bank.

The plan proposes setting up a Palestinian capital in the urban sprawl to the north and east of a concrete wall that Israel built through East Jerusalem more than a decade ago, during the last Palestinian uprising.

“This physical barrier should remain in place and should serve as a border between the capitals of the two parties,” the document says.

Hamas, whose stronghold is in Gaza, was scathing.

“Trump’s statement is aggressive and it will spark a lot of anger,” Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters.

“Trump’s statement about Jerusalem is nonsense and Jerusalem will always be a land for the Palestinians ... The Palestinians will confront this deal and Jerusalem will remain a Palestinian land,” Abu Zuhri added.

In Gaza City, Palestinians burned tyres and chanted: “Trump is a fool”.

“We came here to reject this deal, the American deal of shame. The United States is responsible for all destruction in the Arab world,” said Tamer Al-Madhoun, a protester.

Warning of “widespread calls for demonstrations”, the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem moved to restrict U.S. government employees and their families from traveling to much of Jerusalem’s Old City, which sits in the city’s east, as well as several Palestinian cities and areas of the occupied West Bank.

(This story adds dropped “on Tuesday” to lead.)

Reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Writing by Rami Ayyub in Jerusalem; Editing by Timothy Heritage and Alex Richardson