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Protesters rally against Trump's 'Deal of the Century' for Israelis, Palestinians

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Max Schulte / WXXI NEWS
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Ted Brown with the Rochester chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace protests the Trump administration’s plan for Israel and a proposed Palestinian state.

The Rochester Palestinian community and others protested outside the Federal Building in Rochester on Tuesday over the Trump administration’s “Peace Plan” for Israelis and Palestinians.

Last week, President Donald Trump announced what he called the “Deal of the Century.” It is a two-state plan carving out new boundary lines. The Palestinian Authority was not involved in the drafting of the deal.

In part, it designates Jerusalem and expanded Israeli settlements on the West Bank as part of Israel. Much of the international community sees those settlements as illegal. Israel does not.

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Credit Max Schulte / WXXI NEWS
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From left, Mufida Asmar from Jerusalem and Sultan Sabha from the West Bank, along with fellow University of Rochester classmate Ashton Sopher of New Jersey, protest outside the Federal Building in Rochester on Tuesday.

Elaine Johnson with Rochester Witness for Palestine said that she helped organize the protest because she believes that, far from promoting peace, the plan instead suppresses Palestinians’ rights.

“It's just meant to draw attention to the inhumanity of this "deal of the century" that our president and his cohorts have developed for Israel and Palestine,” Johnson said.

Ted Brown with the Jewish Voice for Peace said that the plan furthers a Zionist agenda, one that he said expands the national borders of Israel at the expense of Palestinians’ lives and livelihoods.

"It is a kind of an apartheid kind of policy. That’s what Zionism has become in Israel,” Brown said.

For Basam Ashkar, a Palestinian living in Rochester, he said that in his view, peace can’t happen without including Palestinians in negotiations.

“The plan is completely, is completely like one side only. This is not the right way to achieve that peace. Both sides, they should be agreed," Ashkar said. "Both sides, they should sit and talk with each other.” 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu celebrated the announcement, calling it the “opportunity of the century.”

However, the European Union warned against such a deal, saying that peace must be decided through direct negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation also condemned the move by the U.S.

The most recent peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians broke down in 2014.

Noelle E. C. Evans is an education reporter/producer with a background in documentary filmmaking and education.