U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan was dropped like a bomb at an increasingly complicated time for the region. Syria is in turmoil, Iraq is in chaos, Iran is reacting to the killing of Qassem Suleimani, and Libya is embroiled in a civil war.
With Trump's plan favoring Israel over Palestine, the situation will be far from resolute on the long-disputed holy soil.
Turkey has been very clear. Ankara's official statement said, "It is an annexation plan aimed at usurping Palestinian lands and killing the two-state solution." President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also condemned the plan.
Marking Jerusalem as the capital of Israel would mean provoking Palestinian sentiments and unrest. This is obvious. On the other hand, while aiming to make Jerusalem Israel's capital, how would it be possible to leave East Jerusalem to Palestine? The plan is ambiguous and is in many ways stillborn.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas labeled it a conspiracy and announced that they would not accept it. So from the very beginning, it is obvious that the announcement of such a plan only deepened the tension.
Sometimes I think the Middle East is a pawn used to buy time for global superpowers. It is very sad to see that actors like the U.S. and Russia are never going to loosen their grip on the region and will always stoke the tensions to maintain an excuse to stay there.
It is hard to believe that it took three years for the Trump administration to come up with this plan. It obviously favors Israeli priorities and was conceived without Palestinian input. Even the way President Trump announced it makes it clear that it is one-sided. How can he convince Palestinians while announcing the plan alongside an Israeli prime minister? The proposed settlement strongly favors Israeli priorities rather than having both sides make significant concessions.
The plan implements a sharp departure from recent American policy. The U.S. has been supporting the creation of a Palestinian state with only small adjustments to the Israeli borders existing before the war in 1967. Now Trump's plan proposes to legalize illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank as Israeli territory, despite them actually being on Palestinian land, meaning his plan demands that Palestinians hand over large swathes of the West Bank hosting Israeli settlements.
At the moment, it is not clear if or how an autonomous Palestinian state could be formed.
While former American proposals pointed to illegal Israeli settlement areas being returned to Palestinians, this plan leaves both sides in their current places.
This plan is unacceptable for Palestine in many ways. The Trump, or rather Jared Kushner, plan is biased, one-sided and shortsighted. Hopefully, it will not provoke new tension in a region that already hosts deep fissures.