Some two years after its key elements were shared with Middle Eastern allies, United States President Donald Trump announced his administration’s “Vision for Peace, Prosperity and a Brighter Future” last Tuesday. The 180-page document seeks to legalise Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Israel also would be allowed to annex about 30 per cent of the West Bank, while the Palestinian state would comprise scattered bits of non-contiguous territory surrounded by Israel. Midwifed by Mr Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, the plan has been rejected outright by the Palestinian Authority. Tellingly, envoys of Egypt and Jordan – nations with peace treaties with Israel – avoided the White House ceremony. It is not clear what prompted Mr Trump to release the plan now, although there are suggestions that it serves as a diversion from his impeachment worries and also bolsters Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who faces indictments on bribery and corruption charges.
A most searing indictment of his plan has come from the United Nations, which has consistently called for a two-state solution with Israelis and Palestinians living side by side within recognised borders “on the basis of the pre-1967 lines”. Mr Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, has called it a recipe for the creation of a “21st century Bantustan”, rather like homelands established for black South Africans during apartheid.