Not including a state for the Palestinians in the peace plan would be a dramatic shift from earlier U.S. administrations.
By David Isaac, World Israel News
Israeli news outlets were abuzz on Monday with news of a Sunday evening report in The Washington Post that the Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan drops the idea of a Palestinian State.
If true, it would explain last Friday’s remarks by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election pledge to annex Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria wouldn’t hurt the prospects for ‘deal of the century’ — the term U.S. President Donald Trump coined to describe an agreement that successfully brought peace to the Arab-Israel conflict.
According to the Post, the plan, which will be released in the spring or early summer, will offer “practical improvements” for Palestinians but “is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state,” sources say.
Point man for the plan is Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. He has described the proposal, which has received input from Arabs, Israelis and “partners in the region” as “fair,” “realistic,” and “implementable.”
However, The Washington Post reports that most analysts say it’s unlikely to succeed.
The main stumbling block will be the Palestinian leadership, which halted official contact with the Trump administration in December 2017 after the president announced his intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
“It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” President Trump said on December 6, 2017. “I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.”
The lead U.S. negotiator for the plan will be former Trump lawyer Jason Greenblatt, now special representative for international negotiations. He appealed to the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a tweet on April 11:
“To the PA: Our plan will greatly improve Palestinian lives & create something very different than what exists. It’s a realistic plan to thrive/prosper even if it means compromises. It’s not a ‘sell out’ — if the plan isn’t realistic, no one can deliver it.”
Mr. Greenblatt linked to an April 8 Bloomberg story, which cited Abbas adviser Nabil Shaath saying that the PA “won’t reject the Trump administration’s peace plan out of hand, but doesn’t expect it will be acceptable.”
On April 14, however, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, during the swearing-in ceremony of his new government, reiterated his firm opposition to the Trump plan.
“We opposed the deal from the start, since it removed Al Quds [Jerusalem] from Palestine, so we didn’t want the rest of the deal, since there can be no [Palestinian] state without Al Quds [Jerusalem], and there won’t be any state in Gaza and there won’t be a state without Gaza,” Abbas said.
The Israelis have signaled they are open to considering the plan. The Washington Post quotes an interview with Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Danny Danon.
“Unlike the Palestinians, we do respect the work that was done by the team, and we will be willing to look at it and speak about it. The Palestinians say exactly the opposite — they say we don’t want to speak with the Israelis, and we don’t want to see the plan that was drafted by the U.S.,” Amb. Danon said.