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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - The peace plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump on Tuesday has been met with derision and weary resignation in occupied East Jerusalem, where residents see little chance of their fortunes changing.
Surrounded by clothes in her small shop not far from Jerusalem’s Old City, Umm Ahmad hit out at the architects of the latest Middle East peace plan.
“You know the people who lie and believe their lies,” the shopkeeper said hours after Mr Trump outlined his proposal.
"They are doing this and they are believing that they can, through their lies, divide and distribute the land."
Mr Trump said the deal marked a “historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state", but it falls far short of Palestinians’ basic requirements for peace.
While there have been protests in the occupied West Bank and Gaza over the deal, occupied East Jerusalem was calm on Wednesday as Palestinians went about their shopping.
At Damascus Gate, an entry point to Jerusalem’s holy sites including Al Aqsa Mosque compound, tour groups wearing headsets and clutching selfie sticks gathered under grey skies.
In the Muslim Quarter just inside the gate, tailor Mohammed Marwan recalled previous attempts at reaching a peace deal.
“The ‘Deal of the Century’ ... they stamped their approval on it 20 years ago,” Mr Marwan said as his wrinkled hands pushed fabric through his sewing machine.
After the landmark Oslo Accords of the 1990s failed to achieve lasting peace, a 2000 meeting in the US between Palestinian and Israeli leaders ended without a deal.
“It’s nothing new. They’ve been preparing the people for it and now they say it’s all fine,” Mr Marwan said.
Mr Trump said his proposals were “a great deal for the Palestinians” but they were immediately rejected by the leadership.
“We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said.
Palestinian authorities cut ties with Washington after Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 , breaking decades of international consensus that the city’s status should be decided through negotiations.
Under the new Middle East peace plan, the US president said Jerusalem would be Israel’s “undivided capital”, while a Palestinian capital would be located in “eastern Jerusalem”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who stood beside Mr Trump as the plan was unveiled, later specified the proposed Palestinian capital would be in Abu Dis.
The village lies behind the security wall built by Israel and Palestinians must pass through a checkpoint to reach central Jerusalem.
Palestinians have maintained their future capital must be in occupied East Jerusalem, with Mr Abbas rejecting a pledge of $50 billion (Dh183.6bn) investment if they agreed to the deal.
“Jerusalem is not for sale,” he said late on Tuesday.
The deal also refuses Palestinians’ “right of return” to homes from which they fled after the creation of Israel in 1948, and foresees Israel controlling the border with Jordan.
Described by Mr Trump as a “win-win” opportunity for Palestinians and Israelis, the details of his plan were dismissed in the eastern sector of the holy city.
“It’s not going to work out,” bus driver Abu Hassan said in a discussion with a young shopkeeper.
“Palestine is for Palestinians. Whatever the Americans do, whatever the Israelis do, we don’t care."
Washington’s plan cements Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, which are regarded illegal under international law, paving the way for Israel to annex the land where more than 400,000 settlers live.
Standing in occupied East Jerusalem’s bus station, Mr Hassan could not see how such a plan would possibly work.
“We need a Palestinian state, and for all Israelis to leave the country and Palestine returns to Palestinians," he said. "That’s what we hope for."
The UN said it remained committed to a two-state solution based on the borders drawn up before the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when Israel seized the West Bank and Gaza.
Rights groups have criticised the plan, with Amnesty International calling it a “dismal package of proposals to violate international law”.
Human Rights Watch, whose country director was recently expelled by Israel, said the peace process had become “a fig leaf for Israel’s entrenched discriminatory rule over Palestinians”.
The deal has the support of Mr Netanyahu’s hard-right caretaker government, which is trying to press forward with annexation before Israel’s March 2 elections.
But even if such a move were delayed and the prime minister was beaten at the polls, his main rival Benny Gantz has pledged to implement the peace plan if he takes the top job.
Mr Abbas has called for Palestinian unity and his Fatah movement held a rare meeting on Tuesday with Gaza’s rulers Hamas, but the two factions remain deeply divided.
With Israel determined to press on with Washington’s plan, in occupied East Jerusalem residents were uncertain what the future may hold for them.
“I don’t know, I don’t know. I don’t have the words,” Umm Ahmad said with a sigh.
Updated: January 30, 2020 11:20 AM
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