Pompeo urges Palestinians to present 'counter-offer' to rejected 'peace sham'

Pompeo urges Palestinians to present 'counter-offer' to rejected 'peace sham'
Palestinians say the so-called 'Deal of the Century' is a farce which will rob them of even more land and rights.
3 min read
29 January, 2020
Israel would be willing to negotiate based on Trump's 'vision', Pompeo said [Getty]
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged Palestinians to come up with a "counter-offer" to President Donald Trump's peace plan which has been rejected by Palestinian officials and the public.

Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" envisions the annexation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, in addition to the Jordan Valley, and contains few immediate concessions to Palestinians.

In response to the farcical deal, Palestinians turned out to protest across the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip in a "Day of Rage" on Wednesday.

Pompeo said Palestinian leaders were "free to come up with a counter-offer if that's what they think is appropriate".

"I know the Israelis would be prepared to sit down and negotiate on the basis of the vision that the president laid out."

The secretary of state will be in London to help forge a post-Brexit alliance with Prime Minister Boris Johnson - a leader Trump once called the UK version of himself.

Johnson was one of the first to voice support for Trump's proposals on Tuesday and said in his defence that "no peace plan is perfect but this [one] has the merit of a two-state solution".

Trump's proposal included no Palestinian input and grants Israel's right-wing government much of what it has sought.

Pompeo addressed the misgivings on Wednesday, but said they were coming from "the same critics who have failed for 70 years".

It remains unclear whether Israel and Palestine will go to the negotiating table.

One of the key elements of the plan rejected by Palestinians - the mass annexation of areas of the West Bank - has already been endorsed as an electoral promise by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main challenger Benny Gantz.

The provision for an "undivided" Israeli capital in Jerusalem west of the seperation wall - another key demand for Israelis - is unlikely to find acceptance among Palestinians.

Palestinian 'Day of Rage'

An Israeli settler shot and injured a Palestinian schoolteacher in the village of Beit Sira, west of Ramallah, as tensions soared across the occupied West Bank on Wednesday.

The settler reportedly shot Safa Ahmed Fallana three times as he stopped near a checkpoint after his car broke down.

He has been hospitalised and remains in a stable condition, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Scores of protesters gathered in the West Bank village of Tubas, in the Jordan Valley, marching with Palestinian flags and performing prayers.

Israeli forces used tear gas and fired live bullets into the air to disperse the rally and arrested a number of attendees.

In the town of Tulkarem, in the northern West Bank, demonstrators marched near the separation wall before being dispersed by Israeli forces firing rubber-coated bullets and tear gas and arrested two youths.

Meanwhile protests broke out at Al-Quds University in Abu Dis, on the outskirts of Jerusalem, as well as in Hebron and al-Bireh. The Palestinian Red Crescent said it had treated 41 injuries on Wednesday so far.

A general strike was launched in the Gaza Strip and in Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon, shuttering shops, government institutions and banks, while schools and universities suspended classes.

Protests were also reported in the refugee camps of Rafah and Bureij.