Pope Francis condemns 'unfair' Middle East peace plans, hinting at 'Deal of the Century'

Pope Francis condemns 'unfair' Middle East peace plans, hinting at 'Deal of the Century'
Pope Francis has called Donald Trump's Middle East plan 'unfair' to Palestinians.
3 min read
24 February, 2020
Pope Francis called the deal 'unfair' [Getty]

Pope Francis has cautioned against "unfair" solutions aimed at "ending the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians" in a speech that appeared to slam Donald Trump’s infamous "Deal of the Century".

In a speech Sunday during a visit to the Italian southern port city of Bari to reflect on peace in countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea, Francis lamented the many areas of war and conflict, including in the Middle East and Northern Africa.

Francis spoke of "the still unresolved conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, with the danger of not fair solutions, and, thus, presaging new crises".

Though the pope did not mention Trump's plan, which seeks to annex a large part of the West Bank and instructs Palestinians to abandon the right of return - a key part of an internationally-recognised two-state solution - analysts believe it refers to the US-led plan.

The peace plan would let Israel annex a third of the West Bank, inside which are hundreds of illegal settlements along with the Jordan Valley.

It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in a small archipelago of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet the nearly impossible conditions set out by Trump.

"It scares me when I hear some speeches by some leaders of the new forms of popularism,'' the pope added, adding waves of refugees fleeing conflicts, climate change consequences and other adversity are "depicted as an invasion".

"The international community has been content with military interventions, whereas it should have built institutions that can guarantee equal opportunities and enable citizens to assume their responsibility for the common good," Pope Francis said, speaking to bishops from countries around the Mediterranean Sea.

Steal of the century?

Protests have been raging in the Middle East over the controversial plan drawn up by US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, which has been seen by political analysts to be heavily favouring Israel.

Trump released the plan with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by his side but no Palestinian representative.

Read More: Trump's 'Steal of the Century', Putin's bloodbath in Idlib, and Lebanon's 'feminist' cabinet - TNA Voice podcast

The plan more than doubles the territory currently under Palestinian control, although it recognises Israeli sovereignty over major settlement blocs in the West Bank, something to which the Palestinians will almost certainly object.

Around 200,000 Israeli Jews now live in East Jerusalem in settlement homes considered illegal under international law.

It would also require Palestinians to agree to a number of difficult - some might say impossible demands - such as accepting West Bank settlements and therefore abandoning the right of return.

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