Impeachment inquiry not expected to affect rollout of the peace plan

Given the political deadlock in Israel, it seems unlikely that the document will be presented before a new government is in place – something that could take months.

By
October 3, 2019 02:50
2 minute read.
U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Morristown municipal airport en route to Washing

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One at Morristown municipal airport en route to Washington after a weekend in Bedminster, New Jersey, U.S., August 4, 2019. . (photo credit: YURI GRIPAS/REUTERS)

The decision of House Democrats to open an impeachment inquiry against US president Donald Trump is not expected to affect in any way the time frame to roll out the peace plan, an administration official told The Jerusalem Post Wednesday.

The main factor when considering the best time to reveal the plan is a formation of a new government in Israel, he said, and the administration is closely monitoring the political situation to see whether a coalition is formed or if Israel is headed to another election.

Top administration officials, such as Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, signaled in the past few months their desire to present the plan after Israel’s September’s election. However, given the political deadlock in Israel, it seems unlikely that the document will be presented before a new government is in place, something that could take months.

Meanwhile, think-tank experts in Washington remain skeptical that the administration’s peace plan will be out in the near future.

“The impeachment inquiry makes it even less likely that Trump will release a peace plan,” Ilan Goldenberg, senior fellow and director of the Middle East Security Program at the Center for a New American Security, told the Post. “The low likelihood of success, the political stalemate in Israel, and the coming presidential elections in the United States were reducing the likelihood the plan would ever see the light of day. The distraction caused by impeachment means the president and Jared Kushner will have even less time to focus on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.”

Natan Sachs, director of the Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution, agrees.

“The political mess in Washington only adds to the distractions from foreign policy, ostensibly making the presentation of the peace plan less likely,” he told the Post. “But it’s worth remembering that foreign policy can also be a useful diversion from domestic troubles. Both Nixon and Clinton used foreign policy to some success in this way, including on the Arab-Israeli conflict.”


Dennis Ross, a counselor at The Washington Institute, said that the impeachment inquiry process “probably gives the Trump Administration an incentive to seek foreign policy successes.

“This means with North Korea or Iran, the president has an interest to do deals and show he is producing,” Ross told the Post. “Neither will give him possible wins on the cheap. They may believe that his need for a victory will ensure they can extract concessions from him.”

Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told the Post that the political drama in Washington is almost certain to shift the focus away from foreign policy, “with the exception of the most pressing national security issues.”

“The timing of the Trump peace plan was not great before the current political drama, as Israel has been experiencing its own political upheavals,” he added. “Rolling out the plan now would thus make little sense.”

Schanzer believes that even a change in the political situation is not likely to bring the peace deal to the top of the priorities in Jerusalem.

“Even if a coalition miraculously came together tomorrow in Israel, it’s hard to imagine Israeli politicians being eager to deal with a new peace plan as their first order of business,” he said.


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