January 28, 2020 / 1:29 PM / 2 months ago

Middle East peace plan will push Israel into apartheid - Palestinian envoy

LONDON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan effectively gives a green light to Israel to establish an apartheid state, the chief Palestinian envoy to Britain said on Tuesday.

“This is a political circus, it’s a sad piece of political theatre,” said Husam Zomlot, who previously served as head of the Palestinian mission to Washington and as strategic adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas.

While the peace proposal to be announced by Trump at noon in Washington (1700 GMT) might refer to the establishment of a Palestinian state, Zomlot said it would have none of the characteristics of a true state and would leave the Israelis able to carve up Palestinian territory into “bantustans”.

“It’s a Mickey Mouse state,” he told Reuters.

“January 28th, 2020, will mark the official legal stamp of approval from the United States for Israel to implement a fully-fledged apartheid system.

“History will mark the name of Trump as the one who pushed Israel in the wrong direction,” he said.

Details of the plan, which has been worked on by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and other close advisers for the past two years, have been kept tightly under wraps. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was invited to Washington for the presentation of the plan, but no Palestinians are present.

Zomlot said enough was known about what has been left out of the deal - referred to as a peace framework - to know it will never be acceptable to Palestinians and the Arab world.

“There is nothing on Jerusalem, there is nothing on ‘67 borders,” he said, referring to the long-held goal of Palestinians to have their capital in East Jerusalem and the borders of their state along the lines of demarcation that existed before the 1967 Six-Day War, when Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.

Instead the framework is expected to propose that Israel retain a large number of Jewish settlements it has built across the West Bank, as well as a large portion of territory along the Jordan River and critical areas of East Jerusalem.

“It’s the Bantustan-isation of the people of Palestine and the land of Palestine,” said Zomlot, referring to the creation of quasi-independent homelands for blacks in South Africa that helped the white rulers to enforce an apartheid state.

“At noon today, Trump will push Israel and Netanyahu over the cliff into apartheid,” he said.

Israel rejects any comparison of its policies on the Palestinians to South Africa under apartheid rule.

Many questions have been raised about why Trump has chosen this moment to present his plan, which has repeatedly been delayed by electoral uncertainty in Israel.

Zomlot said it was clear the timing was a distraction, with Trump attempting to draw attention away from his own impeachment trial and the corruption investigations into Netanyahu, while also trying to boost both of their electoral prospects.

“Everyone probably finds it hard not to laugh at this circus, but we the Palestinians are not laughing,” he said.

Writing by Luke Baker; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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