The U.S. president does not want to be seen as influencing the Israeli election but hopes to push ahead before his own 2020 campaign.
By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News
Speculation is growing over just how long U.S. President Donald Trump will wait before going public on the details of his “deal of the century” regarding Israel and the Palestinians.
Earlier in the week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that efforts would take place right after the April 9 Israeli parliamentary election to build on foundations already laid to pursue Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Now, the Walla! news outlet is reporting that U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman revealed in private talks that the Trump administration is planning to roll out its plan at the end of April.
It quoted sources as saying that Friedman told a Western diplomat that the White House was aware of the political sensitivities of announcing the plan before the formation of an Israeli government coalition, but that, in fact, the timing might be right to make it easier for an Israeli prime minister to accept the deal.
The formation of a new government could take several weeks and might not be completed by the end of April.
However, even before this latest report, there have been indications that the Trump administration is not opposed to having an impact on the composition of a new government alignment that would emerge from the results of the Israeli ballot.
If the U.S. plan makes certain demands of the Israelis that a right-wing party such as the New Right, headed by Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, could not accept, the new coalition would likely wind up with a more center-left leaning. If the demands could be met by Bennett and Shaked, the composition of the new government could be more similar to the one that exists now.
The close relationship between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Trump administration has been widely documented. With that, U.S. officials will not take sides publicly in the current Israeli campaign. Still, they base their assumption that Netanyahu will remain prime minister on public opinion polls.
If the Americans announce their plan even as Netanyahu is trying to form the new coalition, they will have the power to influence the formation of a government that would welcome it, as opposed to waiting to lay it out once the new cabinet already has taken office and potentially stagnating the plan due to a crisis within a new Israeli government that does not totally accept the Trump deal.
The U.S. timetable, however, is based not only the Israeli political scene. There is also a sense of urgency to pursue this major move of American foreign policy before Trump becomes too embroiled in a 2020 reelection bid. Though the next presidential election is a far way off, candidates are already speaking about running and voting in various caucuses, and primaries begin in just a year from now.
“Longer is not our friend,” said one senior administration official, according to The Jerusalem Post. “It is hard for us to imagine a set of circumstances where the plan is never released. We have every intention of releasing it.”