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Israel sources: Trump to ask Israel to withdraw from four East Jerusalem neighbourhoods

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas (R) and US President Donald Trump (L) hold a joint press conference following their meeting on 23 May, 2017 in Bethlehem, West Bank [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]
US President Donald Trump in Bethlehem, West Bank on 23 May, 2017 [Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency]

While the US administration is yet to release details of what Donald Trump has called the “deal of the century”, Israeli sources have claimed that the American President will ask Israel to withdraw from four Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem.

According to the Jerusalem Post reports, Trump will demand that Israel make this “painful concession” and transfer control of the four neighbourhoods – Jebl Mukabar, Issawiya, Shuafat and Abu Dis – to the Palestinians so that the territory could become the capital of a future Palestinian state. The demand, according to the Post, was communicated by US officials to the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman during his visit to Washington last week.

The news comes as the US prepares to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14 May, a decision that has been universally condemned. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel threatened to jeopardise the entire peace process. Following the decision, which was seen as an endorsement of the Israeli narrative, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said he would refuse any offer made by the Americans.

Read: Israel security prepares for US embassy move to Jerusalem

While details of the plan have been sketchy, the Palestinian Authority has confirmed that Abu Dis was offered as a future Palestinian capital. The Saudi’s along with the Americans have been piling pressure on Abbas to endorse Trump’s plan being put together by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump’s advisor Jason Greenblatt, and the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

Full details of Trump’s plan are expected to be unveiled shortly after the embassy move. In the meantime US officials, approached by the Post, categorically denied the report saying that President Trump’s plan has not yet been completed but has entered its final stages of development.

There is further speculation that the US will try to sweeten the deal for the Israelis by promising full support in the event of a widespread conflict with Iran or Syria. The US administration, according to the Post, has told Tel Aviv it would supply the Israeli army with significant support, including advanced weaponry, if a war broke out with Iran, even one instigated by Israeli action against Iran’s presence in Syria.

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