NEW YORK: US President Donald Trump’s administration has told Israel that it will present its long-awaited Middle East peace plan early next year, Israel’s UN envoy said Tuesday.
Israeli Ambassador Danny Danon told journalists that the peace plan was “completed” and that the administration had discussed timing with Israel to unveil the proposals.
“As far as we know, they speak with us about the beginning of 2019, which is coming soon,” Danon said. “We don’t know the details of the plan but we know that it is completed.”
The ambassador said early next year was considered the best timing because it will be several months before expected elections in Israel.
A rollout of the peace plan in early 2019 will allow Trump to “present it without interfering in our political debate in Israel,” he said.
Israel will come to the negotiating table to discuss the plan, Danon said, but the Palestinians will try to block it even as the US tries to bring other key countries on board.
The Palestinians have severed ties with the Trump administration after his December decision to move the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and declare the city Israel’s capital.
The US administration has also cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid.
The Palestinians see the city as the capital of their future state. International consensus has been that Jerusalem’s status must be negotiated between the two sides.
Trump said in September that he planned to unveil the peace plan by the end of the year, and has suggested that the proposals could provide for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Danon said he did not know if the two-state solution was included in the US plan.
Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and lawyer Jason Greenblatt, who have led efforts to draft the plan, traveled to the region several times for talks on the proposals.
Greenblatt said in an October interview with the Times of Israel news site that the plan would “be heavily focused on Israeli security needs” while remaining “fair to the Palestinians.”
“Each side will find things in this plan that they don’t like.”
US President Donald Trump said in September he would unveil a new peace plan within months.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas accuses Trump of bias toward Israel and refers mockingly to his evolving peace program as “the deal of the century.”
The peace plan, Greenblatt said, “will include a resolution to all of the core issues, including the refugee issue.”
He said that it would not propose a Palestinian-Jordanian confederation as a possible solution — something that Abbas has been reported as saying Greenblatt and Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner sounded him out about at a meeting last month.
“We’re not looking at a confederation model,” Greenblatt said in Monday’s interview.
An end to Israeli occupation and a sovereign, independent state of their own is at the heart of Palestinian demands.
Israel, however, says it must retain a security buffer between the West Bank and neighboring Jordan and Israeli officials speak of an undefined “state-minus” or “less-than-state” for the Palestinians.
According to Israeli activists who met Abbas in September, the Palestinian leader said he had told Greenblatt and Kushner that he would only be interested in a confederation if Israel joined too.
His response was seen as a way of torpedoing the proposal since Israel would be highly unlikely to agree.