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Democratic presidential candidates react to Trump’s peace plan

(JTA) – The Democrats running for president have hewed to the party line in criticizing the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan rolled out by President Donald Trump: Unilateral annexation of settlements is the wrong way to go. The tone was first set by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who each seized on the failure of the Trump administration to include the Palestinians in the peace process and the apparent green light that Israel gets in the plan to extend its law to West Bank settlements. “The proposal that was presented today raises many questions,” Pelosi said, “specifically regarding unilateral annexation, settlement freezes and lack of negotiations with the Palestinians.” Schumer, a New York Democrat who is known for his closeness to the prominent Israel lobby AIPAC, said both sides should come to the negotiating table. “Unilateral action taken by either side in response to the release of the Trump administration’s plan will diminish the prospects of a future peace,” he said.

That was the consistent response from candidates who chose to address the deal, and one of them, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, pledged to reverse the effects of the plan, saying, “Releasing a plan without negotiating with Palestinians isn’t diplomacy, it’s a sham. I will oppose unilateral annexation in any form – and reverse any policy that supports it.”

Among the other candidates, Joe Biden called it “a political stunt that could spark unilateral moves to annex territory and set back peace even more.” Mike Bloomberg noted that “any viable plan requires buy-in from both sides, and over the past three years the president has done nothing but hurt the U.S.’s position as an effective broker in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”  Pete Buttigieg called the deal “a political green light to the leader of [Israel] for unilateral annexation.” And, calling the deal “unacceptable,” Bernie Sanders said, “Any acceptable peace deal … must end the Israeli occupation that began in 1967 and enable Palestinian self-determination in an independent, democratic, economically viable state of their own alongside a secure and democratic state of Israel.”

Sanders, Warren and Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota joined a letter to Trump sent by 12 Democrats in the Senate expressing “profound concern” over the plan. “Unilateral implementation of this one-sided proposal will risk eliminating any remaining prospects for achievement of a peaceful and viable two-state solution.”

Main Photo: Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., right, speaks to Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., left, as former Vice President Joe Biden listens Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020, during a Democratic presidential primary debate in Des Moines, Iowa.

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