Donald Trump has proposed the creation of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem.
In exchange, Israel would agree to accept a four-year freeze on new settlement activity while Palestinian statehood is negotiated, they said.
The move follows the breaking down of Israeli-Palestinian talks in 2014.
U.S. officials said they were braced for initial Palestinian skepticism but hoped that over time they will agree to negotiate.
The plan places high hurdles for the Palestinians to overcome to reach their long-sought goal of a state.
Palestinian leaders have already rejected the plan amid concerns that it would not address Israel’s 52-year occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Following the proposals’ official announcement this afternoon, Hamas dismissed it as “aggressive nonsense”, Reuters reported.
It remains to be seen also how Israel responds, given the pressures the right-wing Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, faces going into his third attempt at re-election in less than a year.
This morning Trump help separate meetings with the prime minister’s main rival, Benny Gantz, leader of the centrist Blue and White alliance.
“Today, Israel has taken a giant step toward peace,” Trump said at a White House event with Netanyahu.
“Yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu informed me that he is willing to endorse the vision as the basis for direct negotiations – and, I will say, (Benny Gantz) also endorsed and very strongly – with the Palestinians a historic breakthrough.”
The plan encompasses about 80 pages: 50 of them the political plan announced on Tuesday and 30 from an economic plan announced last July setting up a $50 billion economic revival plan for Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt.
The U.S. proposals represent the most dramatic and detailed attempt to break the historic deadlock between Israel and the Palestinians in several years, the result of a three-year effort by Trump senior advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz and former adviser Jason Greenblatt.
Trump has endorsed a proposed map outlining the two states.
The Palestinian state would be double the size of land that Palestinians currently control and would be connected by roads, bridges and tunnels.
The announcement comes at a politically convenient time for both Trump and Netanyahu.
The impeachment trial of the US President is ongoing in the country’s senate.
Netanyahu was indicted on counts of fraud, breach of trust and bribery in November in three separate cases.
On Tuesday, the Knesset was set to discuss whether it will establish a committee to discuss Netanyahu’s immunity request regarding the charges.
Palestinian statehood would be dependent on Palestinians taking steps for self-government, such as respect for human rights, freedom of the press and having transparent and credible institutions, officials said ahead of the plans’ release.
“In doing the map it’s incredibly difficult to try to create contiguity for a Palestinian state based on what’s happened over the past 25 years so if we don’t do this freeze now I think that their chance to ever have a state basically goes away,” said one official in reference to the growth of Jewish settlements.
“So what we’ve done is basically we’ve bought four more years for them to get their act together and try to negotiate a deal for them to become a state, and I think this is a huge opportunity for them.”
Under the plan Israelis living in settlements would not be asked to move, but further settlements would be prohibited.
Palestinian leaders had said they were not invited to Washington, and that no plan could work without them.
On Monday Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said he would not agree to any deal that did not secure a two-state solution.
That formula, the basis for many years of frustrated international peace efforts, envisages Israel co-existing with a Palestinian state.
Palestinians have refused to deal with the Trump administration in protest at such pro-Israeli policies as its moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,whose eastern half the Palestinians seek for a future capital.
The Trump administration in November reversed decades of U.S. policy when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington no longer regarded the settlements on West Bank land as a breach of international law.
Palestinians and most countries view the settlements as illegal, which Israel disputes.