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Trump announces overdue release of Middle East peace plan

Near East

24 January 2020, 11:13

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US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he would unveil his Middle East peace plan in the coming days, ahead of a White House visit early next week by leading Israeli politicians. The plan has been delayed for over two years.

The proposal aimed at bringing peace to decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is said to be dozens of pages long and to address contentious long-standing issues, such as the status of the city of Jerusalem.

However, few details on its political arrangements have been revealed, though the economic proposals have already been made public. The plan has been designed in large part by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

“It’s a great plan,” Trump told reporters on Thursday on route to a political event in Florida. “It’s a plan that really would work,” he said, adding that both Israel and Palestinians want peace.

PM Netanyahu’s ally Trump

The plan will be revealed ahead of a Tuesday visit to the White House by Israel’s current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz. US Vice President Mike Pence invited the rival politicians to meet with Trump during his visit to Israel.

The two Israeli politicians are currently immersed in a head-to-head campaign for March’s general election — a historic third vote in the space of a year following the failure of multiple collation negotiations.

The right-wing Netanyahu, who is mired in legal troubles, has found a close political ally in Trump. Netanyahu said he has accepted the offer to visit Washington, while it was unclear whether Gantz had accepted the invitation.

Should both Israeli politicians travel to the US, it is not yet known whether the US president intends to meet both leaders together or individually.

Palestinians: ‘Don’t cross red lines’

The peace plan, aimed at ending conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, is expected to be in line with the administration’s previous Middle East policy decisions that have reversed long-held US positions in favor of Israel. These include failing to endorse a two-state solution, describing Israeli settlements as no longer contrary to international law and moving the US Embassy to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

The White House reportedly did not invite Palestinian representatives to Tuesday’s meeting, though Trump said that his administration had talked to the Palestinians, who had rejected the plan.

“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first, but it’s actually very positive to them.”

A spokesperson for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned: “Israel and the U.S. administration not to cross any red lines.” Such red lines could include the future of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, which Palestinians want in its entirety as part of a future state, and Jerusalem, the eastern part of which Palestinians want as a future capital.

The last round of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

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