Arab FMs meet in Cairo to discuss Trump's Mideast plan

AP , Saturday 1 Feb 2020

Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Aboul Gheit (not pictured) in Cairo, Egypt January 31, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

Arab foreign ministers are meeting Saturday in Egypt's capital to discuss a White House plan for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that would grant the Palestinians limited self-rule in parts of the occupied West Bank, while allowing Israel to annex all its settlements there and keep nearly all of east Jerusalem.

The meeting at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo was requested by the Palestinians, who responded angrily to the U.S. deal.

President Mahmoud Abbas, who said ``a thousand no's'' to the proposal, is planning to attend the gathering. He said the Palestinians remain committed to ending the Israeli occupation and establishing a state with its capital in east Jerusalem.

The Arab League's head, Ahmed Aboul-Gheit, said on Wednesday that an initial study of the plan's political framework showed that it ``ignored legitimate Palestinian rights in the territories.''

He said the Palestinian response would be key in shaping a ``collective Arab position'' on the plan, which he noted was a ``non-binding U.S. vision.''

U.S. President Donald trump unveiled the long-awaited proposal Tuesday in Washington. It would allow Israel to annex all its West Bank settlements _ which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as illegal _ as well as the Jordan Valley, which accounts for roughly a fourth of the West Bank.

In return, the Palestinians would be granted statehood in Gaza, scattered chunks of the West Bank and some neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem, all linked together by a new network of roads, bridges and tunnels. Israel would control the state's borders and airspace and maintain overall security authority. Critics of the plan say this would rob Palestinian statehood of any meaning.

The plan would abolish the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian demand. The entire agreement would be contingent on Gaza's Hamas rulers and other armed groups disarming, something they have always adamantly rejected.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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