Pompeo delivered an unvarnished assessment of the deal of the century’s chances in a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders.
By World Israel News Staff
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave a “sobering” view of the chances that the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan will succeed during a closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders last week, The Washington Post reported on Sunday after receiving a leaked recording of the meeting.
Pompeo said “one might argue” that the plan won’t “gain traction” and is “unexecutable,” the paper reported.
The secretary of state said he hoped the plan wouldn’t be immediately rejected, though he admitted the possibility. “It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me,’ that is, ‘It’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out.’”
Pompeo made his comments in a private meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, a New York-based umbrella group that represents numerous Jewish organizations.
Pompeo expressed the limits of what America could do to resolve the long-standing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, saying there are “no guarantees that we’re the ones that unlock it.”
“We’re under no illusions [that] we’re going to show up with this thing and everyone’s going to say, ‘Tell me where to go for the signing ceremony,’” Pompeo said. “It doesn’t work that way.”
Much depends on the other parties, he said. “I hope everyone will engage in a serious way… The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out.”
If Kuwait joins, all the Persian Gulf states will be in Bahrain, he said, “to at least come to listen.”
Although Israel’s government has expressed openness to the plan, the Palestinian side has been adamantly opposed, considering the Trump administration one-sided in favor of Israel. Recently, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said the ‘deal of the century’ and the Bahrain conference can “go to hell.”
Trump has taken a number of additional steps viewed positively by Israel, though with anger by the Palestinians, including moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, cutting funding to the PA and UNRWA, the U.N. relief agency, and closing the Palestinian Liberation Organization’s Washington, D.C. offices in Nov. 2017, which prompted the PA to cut ties with the administration. Trump also recognized Israeli sovereignty on the Golan Heights.
Pompeo said he understand that people would perceive the administration’s plan as being in favor of Israel. “I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” he said. “I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit.”
He also noted that the delay in the plan’s unveiling may affect its chances.
“This has taken us longer to roll out our plan than I had originally thought it might — to put it lightly,” he said.
The Trump administration had held off revealing details of the plan, which it has guarded closely, to give time for things to settle down after Israel’s election in April. However, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition has forced yet another round of elections, scheduled for Sept. 17.
Donald Trump expressed his frustration on Sunday at the White House, saying Israel needs to “get their act together.” “Israel is all messed up with their election. I mean, that came out of the blue three days ago,” he said.
“Bibi got elected. Now all of a sudden they have to go through the process again through September? That’s ridiculous. So we’re not happy about that,” the president said.
Reaction to Pompeo’s remarks at the meeting were mixed, The Washington Post says.
Two of those at the meeting, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they left with the feeling that Pompeo wasn’t optimistic about the plan’s chances. “He was not in any way confident that the process would lead to a successful conclusion,” said one of the attendees, the paper reported.
However, the State Department’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism, Elan Carr, who was at the meeting, said Pompeo “provided a hopeful assessment over the prospect of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“It was an excellent briefing that was very well received by the conference,” he said in an official statement.