by: Ilse Strauss
Tuesday, 14 January 2020 | US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited “Deal of the Century” may be released before Israelis head to the polls on March 2 for the third national election in a year, two top White House officials hinted in recent days.
The economic component of President Trump’s peace plan—highlighting the financial objectives and initiatives to bring economic stability and prosperity to the Palestinian people—was released during the June 2019 Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama, Bahrain. Publication of the second component—detailing the political aspects of Trump’s proposal to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians—was originally set for release in early 2019 but has repeatedly been pushed back after two indecisive elections left Israel without an elected government.
However, White House national security adviser Robert O’Brien on Sunday dismissed the notion that the plan release depends on political stability and an elected government functioning in Jerusalem. “I don’t think it necessarily depends on the elections,” O’Brien told the Axios website.
The Trump administration, O’Brien explained, is “looking for a solution on the Israeli–Palestinian front that is durable, long-lasting, and we’re not timing anything we do based on the domestic politics, either the Palestinians’ or the Israelis’.”
The US president, he added, was “not focused on the Israeli election calendar or when the Palestinians end up having an election.”
A day later, US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, also hinted that the plan might see the light in the next few weeks, Haaretz reports. Addressing a crowd of students at Stanford University, Pompeo referred to the ongoing Israeli–Palestinian friction as a “historic challenge.”
“We are working diligently to build out a set of understandings that take down risk,” he said. “You will continue to see our efforts that relate to the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians—that hasn’t drawn much attention lately. We are still working very diligently on this.”
The two White House officials’ comments come hot on the heels of various Israeli reports professing the imminent publication of the peace plan. Quoting both Israeli and American officials, the reports claim President Trump wants the “Deal of the Century” sealed ahead of the 2020 US presidential elections.
A number of these reports follow a visit by Avi Berkowitz—Jason Greenblatt’s replacement as President Trump’s envoy to the Israeli–Palestinian peace process—to Israel last week. On his first trip to the Jewish state since filling the position, Berkowitz met with senior officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main rival in the upcoming elections, Blue and White party leader, Benny Gantz. The US described the trip as a “fact finding mission,” but as Berkowitz headed home, Israeli sources speculated that the real purpose was laying groundwork for the launch of the plan.
While both Netanyahu and Gantz have in the past expressed their support for President Trump’s initiative, the Blue and White party leader is allegedly troubled about the alleged timing of its publication. According to Haaretz, Gantz fears that releasing the plan before the Israeli elections would aid Netanyahu’s campaign and have told Berkowitz it would constitute “blatant intervention by Trump in Israel’s democratic process.”
Gantz repeated the claim publically during a media briefing last week.
As the clock ticks towards March 2, speculation, rumors, reports and comments by unnamed and named Israeli and American officials abound. In the meantime, whether the plan will see the light before Israelis head to the polls remain to be seen.
Posted on January 14, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, January 14, 2020)
Photo Credit: The White House/Tia Dufour/flickr.com
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