U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton visits the Western Wall in the Old City of Jerusalem, January 6, 2019. Mr. Bolton was accompanied by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David M. Friedman and Rabbi Mordechai Soli Eliav, chairman of the Western Wall Heritage Foundation.
(photo credit: MATTY STERN/US EMBASSY JERUSALEM)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Sunday that the Trump administration's Israeli-Palestinian peace plan - the "deal of the century" - will be presented "within the next several months."
The comments came during National Security Advisor John Bolton's visit to Israel this week. Bolton arrived on Saturday evening, and is scheduled to meet Netanyahu Sunday night. He was last in Israel in August, and this will be his second visit to the country since taking over as National Security Advisor in April. He will travel from Israel to Turkey for talks there expected as well to focus on the situation in Syria.
"It is not clear in which century Trump intends to announce his 'deal of the century,'" Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said in response to Friedman's announcement Sunday." But we do not need to wait for anyone in order to begin the most important thing for the future of the State of Israel: a peace accord with the Palestinians. Netanyahu has already been negligent for a decade while not starting negotiations, and it is sad that Trump's way to help him in the elections is to delay announcing his plan, instead of accelerating it."
Trump's long-awaited plan has been delayed time after time. With Israel heading toward elections on April 9, a further delay was likely.
On one hand, Trump’s peace team says it cannot be responsible for embarrassing the country, the president or the administration by publishing a plan that falls flat on its face out of the gate. Yet it also refuses to give up, insisting that circumstances will serendipitously change just enough for the world to take the plan seriously.
Trump’s team – led by Jared Kushner, his son-in-law; Jason Greenblatt, his special assistant and envoy to the process; and David Friedman, his ambassador to Israel – have floated trial balloons on some of their proposals. Some have flown and some have not. But no one knows precisely what their initiative entails – many in Washington doubt a full draft actually exists – and so it is fair to say that its contents might still surprise the region and reframe discussion around the peace process in more productive terms.
Nikki Haley certainly thinks so. In her final speech as Trump’s ambassador to the UN, the celebrity envoy became only the third senior administration official – save the president himself – to offer glimpses of detail into the plan.
“It is time we faced a hard truth: both sides would benefit greatly from a peace agreement, but the Palestinians would benefit more, and the Israelis would risk more,” Haley told a routine Security Council meeting on the Middle East peace process. “It is with this backdrop in mind that the Trump administration has crafted its plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“I don’t expect anyone to comment on a peace proposal they have not read. But I have read it. And I will share some thoughts on it now. Unlike previous attempts at addressing this conflict, this plan is not just a few pages, containing unspecific and unimaginative guidelines – it is much longer. It contains much more thoughtful detail. It brings new elements to the discussion, taking advantage of the new world of technology that we live in.”Herb Keinon, Michael Wilner and Reuters contributed to this report.
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