US, Israel Push Back against Palestinian Attacks over Trump Peace Plan

PM Netanyahu aboard the USS Ross. Illustrative. Photo courtesy of Kobi Gideon (GPO)

The United States recently flexed its diplomatic muscle in the United Nations arena, and Israel on Sunday threatened “devastating action” against Gaza terrorists, as Washington and Jerusalem pushed back against Palestinian diplomatic and rocket attacks following the unveiling of the Trump Administration’s Middle East peace plan. After another round of Palestinian rocket attacks against Israel on Saturday, the IDF Twitter feed reported that Israeli tanks fired at two Hamas military posts in Gaza. One day later, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Israel’s response could get much stronger.

Recalling the targeted killing of senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Baha Abu al-Ata, Netanyahu on Sunday suggested Islamic Jihad and Hamas “refresh their memories.” “I want to make it clear: We will not accept any aggression from Gaza,” said Netanyahu to the Israeli cabinet in comments released by his office. “…I will not go into detail about all of our actions and plans for the media, but we are prepared to take devastating action against the terrorist organizations in Gaza. Our actions are very strong and they have not yet ended, to put it mildly.”

Meanwhile, Foreign Policy reported that two diplomats claimed Tunisia fired its United Nations ambassador last week after American complaints, as the diplomat was helping spearhead efforts to draft a UN Security Council resolution alleging the US peace plan violates international law. Tunisia was one of two nations—along with Indonesia—on the Security Council who were drafting the resolution.

The Palestinians want the powerful Security Council to reject US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” plan, which actually calls for a Palestinian state while recognizing Israeli sovereignty over Jewish communities in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. Highlighting the scale of opposition to the plan by the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership, the WAFA Palestinian news agency quoted Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for PA President Mahmoud Abbas as saying any borders map that isn’t based on the Palestinian claims of the 1967 armistice lines and East Jerusalem is just a “continuation of the [Israeli] occupation and cannot be accepted.”

The United States wields veto power at the UN Security Council, making a strong Palestinian resolution unlikely to pass. The Mideast Update requested comment from the US State Department on the Palestinian UN effort, but a response was not received as of press time.

However, former US Middle East advisor Jason Greenblatt last week responded on Twitter to the claims the Trump plan is illegal. “At some point everyone will realize that with respect to this conflict there is no such thing as ‘international law’ or ‘internationally-endorsed terms of reference’. This conflict can be resolved, if at all, only by the 2 sides directly,” tweeted Greenblatt.

Despite what appears to be an initial diplomatic victory for the US in regards to Tunisia, Israel and the US still seem to be feeling the pressure from international opposition to the Trump peace plan. Excitement over applying Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria—which some call “settlements”—that the Trump plan would recognize as being part of Israel looks to have been tempered. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Sunday took to Twitter to emphasize the sovereignty approach was subject to a fully collaborative process with the Americans in order to receive US approval.

“As we have stated, the application of Israeli law to the territory which the Plan provides to be part of Israel is subject to the completion a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee. Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition,” said Friedman in a series of Twitter posts.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu is preaching patience. “The US and we have agreed that when the entire process will have been completed, we will bring it to the Cabinet. However, the Americans are saying very clearly: ‘We want to give you the recognition and we will give it to you when the entire process has been completed,’” said Netanyahu on Sunday in his remarks to the cabinet. “This recognition is the main point… We do not want to endanger this. We are working responsibly and sagaciously.”

To put the process into context, Netanyahu said that this process “requires precise mapping of these territories, the entire territory” that has a perimeter of 800 kilometers (497 miles). Nonetheless, despite the scale of the effort, Netanyahu is hoping it will be wrapped up “very soon.”

“The work has begun. The Israeli team has begun work. The train is underway and this work will be completed,” said Netanyahu. “….To all those tweeting from outside and even from within the government, we have done the work. We will complete the work; therefore, the work is underway and I hope it will be completed very soon.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, February 9, 2020)


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