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Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh gestures as he speaks during a workshop on cooperation between Palestinians and East Asian countries, in Jericho in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 3, 2019. Photo by Mussa Qawasma/Reuters

Palestinian prime minister rejects Trump peace plan ahead of unveiling

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh on Monday denounced the long-anticipated Trump administration peace proposal ahead of its unveiling this week, saying it “doesn’t constitute a basis for resolving the conflict.”

Shtayyeh spoke to his Cabinet as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was visiting Washington for the announcement of President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Shtayyeh said the plan violates international law and “comes from a party that has lost its credibility to be an honest broker in a serious and genuine political process.”

The Palestinians have not yet seen the plan but have already rejected it, saying the Trump administration is biased in support of the Israelis.

The Trump administration took several steps in recent years that angered the Palestinians. They ranged from recognizing the contested city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy there, to closing Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington and cutting funding to Palestinian aid programs.

Reports in Israeli media have speculated the plan will be extremely favorable to Israel, including the possible annexation of large pieces of territory which the Palestinians seek for a future independent state.

A Palestinian official said that President Mahmoud Abbas has rejected overtures from mediators in recent weeks to arrange a phone call with Trump. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was discussing a classified diplomatic issue.

Trump and Netanyahu are slated to meet Tuesday to discuss the much-vaunted “Deal of the Century.” The White House invited the Israeli prime minister and his main opponent, Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz, to Washington on Monday to announce the plan just weeks before Israel’s third parliamentary election in under a year.

In the run-up to the March 2 vote, Netanyahu has called for annexing the Jordan Valley and Jewish settlements across the West Bank. Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.

Annexing Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank would appeal to Netanyahu’s hard-line nationalist supporters, but would torpedo the viability of an independent Palestinian state and likely infuriate neighboring Jordan.

Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty in 1994, the second between Israel and its Arab neighbors after Egypt.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, a Netanyahu ally, said during a visit to settlements in the Jordan Valley that his office had started preparing the legal groundwork for annexation of the region, so that “when he returns to the country we can already extend (sovereignty) and start working effectively in the government and in the Knesset.”

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