Optimism scarce for Trump peace plan
THE LEADERS of a team preparing Donald Trump’s muchvaunted plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace are to travel to the Middle East for talks next week.
Jared Kushner, the White House senior advisor and Mr Trump’s son-in-law, and special envoy Jason Greenblatt are expected to visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia but are not scheduled to meet representatives of the Palestinian Authority, which is currently boycotting the US. There is still no official line on when the plan will be publicly announced beyond “when the circumstances are right”.
A year-and-a-half into the Trump administration’s term in office, there is growing scepticism that a plan will ever emerge.
“I believe they are working on a plan,” said one Israeli diplomat recently. “Whether I believe they will ever get around to presenting it is another matter.”
However, there is an expectation that at some point the administration will have to announce something, if only to satisfy its Arab allies.
There are reports of discord within the administration’s team on the proposed deal. The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who is widely seen as having become more influential on this issue, flew back to Washington last week to discuss the proposals at the White House.
Mr Friedman is regarded as close to the right-wing in Israel and is trying to minimise any concessions Israel may be called on to give the Palestinian side.
The Palestinians believe some form of Trump Peace Plan will ultimately be forthcoming and are convinced it will be one they cannot even contemplate.
“It will give us nothing in Jerusalem, nothing on the issue of refugees and [will] keep the West Bank and Gaza apart from each other,” one senior Palestinian official predicted.
The Palestinian Authority cut off official ties with the Trump administration when Mr Trump announced that the US would move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. It will reject any proposal out of hand, in full awareness that this will cast it in the role of refusing to advance on peace.
A US official told Haaretz on Wednesday night: “We have said all along that we don’t want to impose an agreement.
“So presenting the plan as a ‘take it or leave it’ kind of document would be inconsistent with that.”
Another official said: “We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else.”
But Palestinian concerns run much deeper than the United States’s strategy.
In his recent visit to the US, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was alleged to have told a private meeting with Jewish American leaders: “In the last several decades the Palestinian leadership has missed one opportunity after the other and rejected all the peace proposals it was given. It is about time the Palestinians take the proposals and agree to come to the negotiations table or stop complaining.”
With ties between Israel and the leaders of a number of Sunni Arab nations growing ever closer, the Palestinians’ chief fear is that the Donald Trump plan will be an excuse for their Arab “brothers” to stop even paying lip service to the Palestinian cause.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman