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Remarks Announcing the White House Middle East Peace Plan With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel

January 28, 2020

President Trump. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you.

Today Israel takes a big step towards peace. Young people across the Middle East are ready for a more hopeful future, and governments throughout the region are realizing that terrorism and Islamic extremism are everyone's common enemy.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of meeting with both the Prime Minister of Israel and a man that's working very hard to become the Prime Minister of Israel—[laughter]—in the longest running election of all time, Benny Gantz of the Blue and White Party. And both leaders joined me to express their support for this effort, proving that the State of Israel looking for peace and that peace transcends politics by any measure unmeasurable. That's what they want.

On my first trip overseas as President, I visited the Holy Land of Israel. I was deeply moved and amazed by what this small country had achieved in the face of overwhelming odds and never-ending threats. The State of Israel comprises only a miniscule amount of land in the Middle East, and yet it has become a thriving center of democracy, innovation, culture, and commerce.

Israel is a light unto the world. The hearts and history of our people are woven together. The land of Israel is an ancient home, a sacred place of worship, and a solemn promise to the Jewish people that we will never again repeat history's darkest hour.

During my trip to Israel, I also met with Palestinian President Abbas in Bethlehem. I was saddened by the fate of the Palestinian people. They deserve a far better life. They deserve the chance to achieve their extraordinary potential. Palestinians have been trapped in a cycle of terrorism, poverty, and violence, exploited by those seeking to use them as pawns to advance terrorism and extremism.

I returned from my visit determined to find a constructive path—and it's got to be a very powerful path—forward in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. To further this effort, I also met with President Abbas at the White House. Forging peace between Israelis and Palestinians may be the most difficult challenge of all. All prior administrations, from President Lyndon Johnson, have tried and bitterly failed. But I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems. [Applause] Thank you. Thank you.

It's been a long and very arduous process to arrive at this moment. On Sunday, I delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu my vision for peace, prosperity, and a brighter future for the Israelis and Palestinians. This vision for peace is fundamentally different from past proposals. In the past, even the most well-intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual frameworks. By contrast, our plan is 80 pages and is the most detailed proposal ever put forward by far.

As I have seen throughout my long career as a dealmaker, complex problems require nuanced, fact-based remedies. That is why our proposal provides precise technical solutions to make Israelis, Palestinians, and the region safer and much more prosperous. My vision presents a "win-win" opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel's security. Today Israel is taking a giant step toward peace.

Yesterday Prime Minister Netanyahu informed me that he is willing to endorse the vision as the basis for direct negotiations—and, I will say, the general also endorsed and very strongly—with the Palestinians, a historic breakthrough. And likewise, we have really a situation having to do with a race that is taking place right now. It will end, and we have the support—and it's very important to say this—of both parties and almost all people in Israel. They want peace, and they want peace badly.

This is the first time Israel has authorized the release of a conceptual map, illustrating the territorial compromises it's willing to make for the cause of peace. And they've gone a long way. This is an unprecedented and highly significant development.

Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for having the courage to take this bold step forward. Thank you.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Thank you.

President Trump. Thank you. [Applause] Great. And, Bibi, we have a lot of powerful people in this room, a lot of the people that can help make it work. So that's quite a thunderous applause. Thank you very much.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Thank you, Donald.

President Trump. Thank you.

We will form a joint committee with Israel to convert the conceptual map into a more detailed and calibrated rendering so that recognition can be immediately achieved. We will also work to create a contiguous territory within the future Palestinian state for when the conditions for statehood are met, including the firm rejection of terrorism.

Under this vision, Jerusalem will remain Israel's undivided—very important—undivided capital. [Applause]

Prime Minister Netanyahu. I think they'll love this.

President Trump. But that's no big deal, because I've already done that for you, right? [Laughter] We've already done that, but that's okay. It's going to remain that way.

And the United States will recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory that my vision provides to be part of the State of Israel. Very important. And crucially, the proposed transition to a two-state solution will present no incremental security risk to the State of Israel whatsoever.

We will not allow a return to the days of bloodshed, bus bombings, nightclub attacks, and relentless terror. Won't be allowed. Peace requires compromise, but we will never ask Israel to compromise its security. Can't do that.

As everyone knows, I have done a lot for Israel: moving the United States Embassy to Jerusalem; recognizing the Golan Heights; and frankly, perhaps most importantly, getting out of the terrible Iran nuclear deal. [Applause] There's a lot of spirit in this room. [Laughter] It's true. You don't see it often. You don't see it often.

Therefore, it is only reasonable that I have to do a lot for the Palestinians, or it just wouldn't be fair. Now, don't clap for that, okay? [Laughter] But it's true. It wouldn't be fair. I want this deal to be a great deal for the Palestinians. It has to be.

Today's agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own. After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have. And "last" for a lot of reasons. We'll never have a team like we have right now.

We have a team of people that love the United States and they love Israel, and they're very smart and very, very committed: from your Ambassador David Friedman to Jason and Avi and Jared. And they're all great dealmakers and they also understand the other side. And they want the other side to do well, because that's the sign of a great deal. And they understand that.

And I just appreciate all of the hard work you've put in and so many of your other friends. And of course, our great Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo. [Applause] Look at—whoa. Wow, that's impressive. That was very impressive, Mike. [Laughter]

That reporter couldn't have done too good a job on you yesterday, right? [Laughter] I think you did a good job on her actually. [Laughter] That's good. Thank you, Mike. Great. Very—are you running for Senate? I guess the answer is "no" after that, huh? [Laughter] They all want him to. Kansas, great State. They want him to, but you're doing a great job. Don't move. [Laughter]

The Palestinian people have grown distrustful after years of unfulfilled promises—so true—yet I know they are ready to escape their tragic past and realize a great destiny. But we must break free of yesterday's failed approaches.

This map will more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem where America will proudly open an Embassy. No Palestinians or Israelis will be uprooted from their homes.

Israel will work closely with a wonderful person, a wonderful man—the King of Jordan—to ensure that the status quo of the Temple Mount is preserved and strong measures are taken to ensure that all Muslims who wish to visit peacefully and pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be able to do so. This is a major statement. This is of major importance.

And, at the same time, our vision will deliver a massive commercial investment of $50 billion into the new Palestinian state. You have many, many countries that want to partake in this, and many of them are surrounding. They all want this to happen. Virtually every one of them want this to happen. And I think, Bibi, you know that very well. You're going to have tremendous support from your neighbors and beyond your neighbors.

Over the next 10 years, if executed well, 1 million great new Palestinian jobs will be created. Their poverty rate will be cut in half. And their poverty rate is unacceptable now and only getting worse. Their GDP will double and triple. And much-needed hope, joy, opportunity, and prosperity will finally arrive for the Palestinian people.

Our vision will end the cycle of Palestinian dependency upon charity and foreign aid. They will be doing phenomenally all by themselves. They are a very, very capable people. And we will help by empowering the Palestinians to thrive on their own. Palestinians will be able to seize the new future with dignity, self-sufficiency, and national pride.

To ensure a successful Palestinian state, we are asking the Palestinians to meet the challenges of peaceful coexistence. This includes adopting basic laws enshrining human rights; protecting against financial and political corruption; stopping the malign activities of Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and other enemies of peace; ending the incitement of hatred against Israel—so important; and permanently halting the financial compensation to terrorists.

And perhaps most importantly, my vision gives the Palestinians the time needed to rise up and meet the challenges of statehood. I sent a letter today to President Abbas. I explained to him that the territory allocated for his new state will remain open and undeveloped for a period of 4 years. During this time, Palestinians can use all appropriate deliberation to study the deal, negotiate with Israel, achieve the criteria for statehood, and become a truly independent and wonderful state.

President Abbas, I want you to know that if you choose the path to peace, America and many other countries will—we will be there. We will be there to help you in so many different ways. And we will be there every step of the way. We will be there to help. In other words, for the first time in many, many decades, I can say: It will work. It's going to work. If they do this, it will work. Your response to this historic opportunity will show the world to what extent you are ready to lead the Palestinian people to statehood.

The Middle East is changing rapidly. On my first trip aboard [abroad; White House correction.] as President, I traveled to Saudi Arabia to discuss our shared priorities with the 54 leaders of the Muslim and Arab countries. I made clear that all civilized nations share the same goals: stamping out extremism; creating opportunity for the region's youth—and we have to take care of the region's youth; the region's youth is growing up with no hope; we have to take care of the region's youth—and existing in harmony with one's neighbors.

Since that time, immense progress has been made. A growing number of nations have taken strong stands against terrorism and radicalization. You see it. Thanks to the courage of U.S. forces, the ISIS territorial caliphate—100 percent—not 95 percent, not 99 or any other percent—100 percent of their caliphate, ISIS, is destroyed. And its savage leader, al-Baghdadi, is now dead.

And I want to thank—we have some of our great Senators and Congress men and women here. And I want to thank you all for the tremendous help. Thank you very much, Jim, Ted, everybody. Steve. Our Leader. Leader, thank you. Mark, thank you. Great people. These are great people. They work so hard, and they love this country.

The Iranian regime is isolated and weakened greatly. We eliminated Qasem Soleimani, the world's top terrorist. And, as you know, he was with the head of Hezbollah. I don't think that they were up to anything good. [Laughter] I don't think so.

He ran an organization called Jerusalem Liberation Forces and used his hatred—total severe hatred—of Israel as a rallying cry to divert attention from the incompetence and shortcomings of his Government. He falsely promoted the sinister notion that a free Jerusalem—we must really be at war with Israel. So to have it free, we have to be at war with Israel. And he said it very, very powerfully.

In fact, it's been in this false war that Israel—really, the enemies of peace have used—they just used it as an excuse to divide and totally oppress the Middle East. In truth, Jerusalem is liberated.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. We did. [Applause] Well said.

President Trump. Jerusalem is a safe, open, democratic city that welcomes people of all faiths and all places.

It is time for the Muslim world to fix the mistake it made in 1948 when it chose to attack, instead of recognize, the new State of Israel. It's time. Since then, the amount of needless bloodshed and all squandered opportunity—so many squandered opportunities—in the name of senseless causes is beyond measure. The Palestinians have been the primary pawn in this regional adventurism, and it's time for this sad chapter in history to end—end quickly, end now. It's never too late for courageous leaders to set a new course, to pursue what is right, to change the future only for the better.

America is prepared to work with all parties on our vision. So many other countries are willing, ready, and able to work with us. I've spoken to many of them. I cannot believe the amount of support this morning has. I cannot believe it. I have been called by leaders—Boris called, so many called—and they're all saying, "Whatever we can do to help." They all want to see it happen. But America cannot care more about peace than the stakeholders in the region. There are many Muslims who never visited Al-Aqsa, and many Christians and Jews who never visited the holy sites in the West Bank described so vividly in the Bible. My vision will change that. Our majestic biblical heritage will be able to live, breathe, and flourish in modern times.

All humanity should be able to enjoy the glories of the Holy Land. This part of the world is forever connected to the human soul and the human spirit. These ancient lands should not be symbols of conflict, but eternal symbols of peace.

Thank you again for all of the work you've all done and all of these incredible honored guests for being here. And in particular, I want to thank Prime Minister Netanyahu. I also want to thank Oman, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates for the incredible work they've done, helping us with so much and sending their Ambassadors to be with us today. Thank you very much for being here.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. We have Oman, Bahrain, and the Arab Emirates?

President Trump. Yes.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Okay.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Please give our regards.

America's partnerships in the region have never been greater, and our alliance with the State of Israel has never, ever been stronger than it is today. Together, we can bring about a new dawn in the Middle East.

And I would now, again, just like to thank everybody and—a very special group of people, an incredible group of people. So many have been with us on this journey right from the beginning. And we're getting there. It's—they say it's the toughest deal ever to make. In business, when I have a tough deal, people would say, "This is tougher than the Israelis and the Palestinians." [Laughter] They used it as an excuse, meaning that was always the standard. Actually, there's nothing tougher than this one—[laughter]—but we have to get it done. We have an obligation to humanity to get it done.

So I would now like to introduce the Prime Minister of Israel, who's worked so hard on this, Benjamin Netanyahu. Thank you.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. Great, great speech. Thank you. In the Middle East, we drink water before a long voyage. This is an extraordinary voyage.

President Trump, Donald: I'm honored to be here today, along with my wife Sara; Minister Yariv Levin; Ambassador Ron Dermer—Ron, thank you for everything you've been doing; National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat—thank you too, Meir; and our entire delegation.

We are honored to be here with you, Mr. President; with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo—we applaud you, Mike; Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin; National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien; America's U.N. Ambassador Kelly Craft; Jared Kushner and Ivanka—it's good to see you both. It's good to see the unfailingly energetic and optimistic Ambassador David Friedman—Jason Greenblatt, Avi Berkowitz, Brian Hook, and the rest of your exceptional peace plan, Mr. President.

It's good to be here with the other distinguished ladies and gentlemen of your administration, with Senators and Members of Congress who are Israel's greatest friends on Capitol Hill. Thank you. Thank you. With the Ambassadors of the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Oman, what a pleasure to see you here—and what a sign it portends—I was going to say "of the future." What a sign it portends of the present.

To all of you and to the many distinguished—other distinguished guests who are here today: This is a historic day. And it recalls another historic day. We remember May 14, 1948, because on that day, President Truman became the first world leader to recognize the State of Israel after our first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared our independence. That day charted a brilliant future.

Mr. President, I believe that down the decades—and perhaps down the centuries—we will also remember January 28, 2020, because on this day, you became the first world leader to recognize Israel's sovereignty over areas in Judea and Samaria that are vital to our security and central to our heritage. And on this day, you too have charted a brilliant future—a brilliant future for Israelis, Palestinians, and the region—by presenting a realistic path to a durable peace.

Since the moment of its birth, Israel has yearned for peace with our Palestinian neighbors and peace with the broader Arab world. For decades, that peace has proved elusive, despite so many well-intentioned plans. One after the other, they failed. Why did they fail? They failed because they did not strike the right balance between Israel's vital security and national interests and the Palestinians' aspirations for self-determination.

Too many plans tried to pressure Israel to withdraw from vital territory like the Jordan Valley. But you, Mr. President, you recognized that Israel must have sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and the other—and other strategic areas of Judea and Samaria.

Rather than pay easy lip service to Israel's security and simply shut your eyes, hope for the best, you recognized that Israel must have sovereignty in places that enable Israel to defend itself, by itself. For too long—far too long—the very heart of the land of Israel where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached, and our kings ruled, has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Well, today, Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie. You are recognizing Israel's sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, large and small alike.

These, as the distinguished pastors who are here know very well—these are places inscribed in the pages of the Bible. These are places carved into the bedrock of our common civilization: the sacred tomb in Hebron where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish people are buried; Bethel, where Jacob dreamed of a ladder ascending to the heavens; Shiloh, where the Ark of the Covenant that held the Ten Commandments for 10 century—for 10 century. For—sorry, for centuries. That's what happened in Shiloh.

Thanks to you, Mr. President, these areas and so many others that, for millennia, have been etched in the soul of the Jewish people and have fired the imaginations of millions of people around the world and across the world—these areas will now be recognized by the United States as a permanent part of the Jewish state.

Mr. President, because of this historic recognition, and because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed, I've agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan.

It's a great plan for Israel. It's a great plan for peace. Frankly, Mr. President, given all that you have already done for Israel, I'm not surprised. You have been the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House. Frankly, though we've had some great, outstanding friends in these halls, it's not even close. [Laughter] Your historic decisions to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital; to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights; to reaffirm Israel's legal claims in Judea and Samaria; to stand up to Iran; to pull out of that dangerous Iran deal; to confront—"confront" is not the word—to eliminate Qasem Soleimani; to support and encourage unbelievable cooperation between Israel and the United States in the military and strategic and intelligence fields—all this bear testament to the friendship and depth of your leadership and commitment to Israel.

From our very first meeting here in the White House 3 years ago, you repeatedly made clear your commitment to help Israel achieve peace with the Palestinians and peace with the rest of the Arab world. Mr. President, I share that commitment, and I look forward to working with you to achieve a peace the will protect Israel's security, provide the Palestinians with dignity and their own national life, and improve Israel's relations with the Arab world.

Your peace plan advances all these goals. First, it addresses the root cause of the conflict, the—and by insisting that the Palestinians will finally have to recognize Israel as the Jewish state.

Second, it stipulates that Israel will retain security control in the entire area west of the Jordan River, thereby giving Israel a permanent eastern border, a permanent eastern border to defend ourselves across our longest border. This is something we've longed to have. We now have such a recognized boundary.

Third, your plan calls for Hamas to be disarmed and for Gaza to be demilitarized.

Fourth, it makes clear that the Palestinian refugee problem must be solved outside the State of Israel.

Fifth, it calls for our ancient capital, Jerusalem, to remain united under Israel's sovereignty. It, of course, ensures that religious sites remain accessible to all faiths. And it maintains the status quo on the Temple Mount.

Sixth, your plan does not uproot anyone from their homes, Israelis and Palestinians alike. Instead, it proposes innovative solutions whereby Israelis will be connected to Israel and whereby Palestinians will also be connected to one another. This is—that helps if you have these real estate people, you know? [Laughter] They can come up with——

President Trump. It's true.

Prime Minister Netanyahu. ——they can come up with things normal human beings don't think about. [Laughter] And they have.

Mr. President, Israel wants the Palestinians to have a better life. We want them to have a future of national dignity, prosperity, and hope. Your peace plan offers the Palestinians such a future. Your peace plan offers the Palestinians a pathway to a future state.

I know that it may take them a very long time to reach the end of that path. It may even take them a very long time to get to the beginning of that path. But if the Palestinians are genuinely prepared to take that path, if they're genuinely prepared to make peace with the Jewish state, and if they agree to abide by all the conditions you have put forward in your plan, Israel will be there. Israel will be prepared to negotiate peace right away.

Regardless of the Palestinian decision, Israel will preserve the path of peace in the coming years. For at least 4 years, Israel will maintain the status quo in areas that your plan does not designate as being part of Israel in the future.

At the same time, Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and to other areas that your plan designates as part of Israel and which the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel. [Applause] I like that. This decision will protect Israel's security, ensure Israel's national interests, and leave open the possibility of a political settlement with the Palestinians in the coming years.

Mr. President, I hope the Palestinians embrace your vision of peace, embrace the plan that you and your team—and us—worked so hard to achieve. I hope that they seize the opportunity offered by your sweeping economic plan. I've read it. It takes enormous talent to reject $50 billion worth of investment. [Laughter] I know what that does to an economy. I know what it will do to Palestinian lives. I know what it will do to the youth of the region. I hope that the Palestinians embrace this and build, with Israel, a future of prosperity and peace.

I also hope that our other Arab neighbors embrace your vision and forge a path of reconciliation with Israel that can create for all of us a brilliant future.

Mr. President, I want to congratulate your fantastic team—there's no other word—your fantastic peace team for all their work. Jason Greenblatt. Thank you, Jason, for the terrific job you did as America's peace envoy for nearly 3 years. Avi Berkowitz, thank you for stepping out—thank you, Avi, for stepping out from your important behind-the-roles scene—behind-the-scenes role and ably working in those past few months to get this plan done.

Ambassador David Friedman. Thank you, David. Thank you for your essential contribution to this effort and for the terrific job you do every day to strengthen the great alliance between Israel and America.

And, Jared Kushner, without your wisdom, your persistence, your resolve, this day would have never come. I know how much the Jewish future means to you and to your family. Well, Jared, today you have helped secure that future. The Jewish state owes you and it owes President Trump an eternal debt of gratitude.

Mr. President, on that historic day of May 14, 1948, both David Ben-Gurion and President Truman had a fateful decision to make. Many argued that Ben-Gurion should not declare Israel's independence. Many argued that President Truman should not recognize the Jewish state. But both leaders understood the magnitude of the hour. They seized the moment and they changed history.

Like you, Mr. President, I understand the magnitude of this moment. With you, Mr. President, I am prepared to seize the moment and change history. I know that there will be opposition; there's always opposition. I know there will be many obstacles along the way, much criticism. But we have an old Jewish saying: "If not now, when? And if not us, who?"

[At this point, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke briefly in Hebrew.]

Mr. President, your deal of the century is the opportunity of the century. And rest assured Israel will not miss this opportunity. Mr. President, Donald: Israel is blessed to have your friendship and your powerful leadership. And Israel is blessed to have the friendship of the greatest power on Earth, the United States of America.

May God bless America, may God bless Israel, and may God bless us all with security, prosperity, and peace. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 12:09 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to former U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason D. Greenblatt; U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Avrahm J. Berkowitz; White House Senior Adviser Jared C. Kushner; Mary Louise Kelly, cohost, NPR's "All Things Considered" program; King Abdullah II of Jordan; Sens. James E. Risch and R. Edward "Ted" Cruz; Reps. Stephen J. Scalise and Mark R. Meadows; House Minority Leader Kevin O. McCarthy; Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom; Oman's Ambassador to the U.S. Hunaina bint Sultan bin Ahmad al-Mughairi; Bahrain's Ambassador to the U.S. Abdulla bin Rashid Al Khalifa; and United Arab Emirates' Ambassador to the U.S. Yusif bin Mani bin Said al-Utayba. He also referred to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) terrorist organization. Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to Minister of Tourism Yariv Levin of Israel; Adviser to the President Ivanka M. Trump; and U.S. Special Representative for Iran Brian H. Hook. The Office of the Press Secretary also released the text of the plan, "Peace to Prosperity: A Vision To Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People."

Donald J. Trump, Remarks Announcing the White House Middle East Peace Plan With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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