Donald Trump once offered Jordan’s King Abdullah II control of the West Bank, which he characterised at the time as being a “great deal”, according to a forthcoming book on behind-the-scenes accounts of the Trump White House.
The Jordanian monarch received the offer from the former US president, who had no authority to make the promise since the American government has no control over who resides or owns the occupied territory, in January 2018. The offer was just one month after his administration broke with decades of US policy by moving its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
When Abdullah II received the message from Mr Trump, he reportedly told an American friend: “I thought I was having a heart attack,” authors Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, and Susan Glasser, staff writer for the New Yorker, reveal in their book The Divider: Trump in the White House 2017-2021.
The Washington Post, who received an excerpt of the forthcoming book, first reported on the details of the two world leaders’ exchange.
The exchange shared between the two world leaders is just one of the stunning revelations unearthed by the two veteran White House reporters in their forthcoming book, due out on Tuesday.
At the time the unachievable deal was reportedly floated to the king, Mr Trump was attempting to put out fires in his own administration’s attempt at cementing peace between Israel and Palestine.
One of the first major cracks in the president’s overzealous and perhaps naively mapped out promise to achieve peace between the two arrived in December when he announced that the US would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and planned to move the US embassy there from its long held address in Tel Aviv.
Though then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed MrTrump’s acknowledgement, which broke with precedent established by several administrations before him, it came at the cost of Palestinian leadership rejecting American involvement in the peace process.
Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas said at the time that with “Jerusalem off the table” – which Palestinians view as the seat of their state’s capital and is one the main sticking points in efforts to resolve the conflict – he would not participate in any future negotiations as long as Trump was involved.
“We won’t take orders from anyone. We told Trump we will never accept his [peace] plan. His deal of the century is the slap in the face of the century, and we will not accept it,” said Mr Abbas at the time.
From 1950 to 1967, Jordan controlled the West Bank but after the Six-Day War, the large swath of land between Jordan and Israel was captured by Israeli forces. Since then, the Palestinian territory has been militarily occupied by Israeli forces, as affirmed by the International Court of Justice.
Groups of Israeli settlers have been moving into the occupied territory to establish settlements since the military moved in, which are viewed as illegal under international law and condemned by many nations around the world. This policy was reaffirmed by many US presidents until Trump took the reins in 2017 and began supporting the construction of these illegal settlements.
During Mr Trump’s administration, settler growth in the contested territories accelerated after the one-term president showed an unprecedented level of support for Israel’s claims to land seized in war. That growth, according to figures released by a pro-settler group in March, has continued to surge in the last year, despite President Joe Biden reversing Mr Trump’s tracks and returning to the US policy that has widely condemned the expansion of developments.
Statistics from WestBankJewishPopulationStats.com, as reported by the Associated Press, show that the settler population grew to 490,493 by the end of January 2022, representing a 3.2 per cent increase from the previous 13 months.
Since 2017, when the group began tracking development, the settler population in the West Bank has grown by 16.5 per cent.