Israeli politics, religious holidays could further delay Trump’s peace plan

Trump has said himself that the plan will necessitate concessions on both sides, but any Israeli territorial concession is likely to be strongly opposed.

April 11, 2019 23:04
3 minute read.
Israeli politics, religious holidays could further delay Trump’s peace plan

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US President Donald Trump; Psychology Prof. Shaul Kimhi of Tel Hai College notes Netanyahu’s ‘ability to mobilize his supporters,’ a trait he says that also characterizes Trump. (photo credit: CARLOS BARRIA / REUTERS)


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US President Donald Trump is unlikely to roll out his Mideast peace plan until after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sets up his new government, Israeli officials said, despite US National Security Council John Bolton’s comment Wednesday that it could be published in the “very near future.”

But if the administration waits until a new government is formed, it is likely – especially if the coalition depends on support from the Union of Right-Wing Parties and Yisrael Beytenu – that it would trigger the new government’s first coalition crisis.

Trump has said himself that the plan will necessitate concessions on both sides, but any Israeli territorial concession is likely to be strongly opposed by at least one of those two parties, if not by both.

If Trump would drop the plan during the coalition negotiations, it could have an impact on them, with the plan possibly chasing the URP and Yisrael Beytenu out of the coalition, and even encouraging talk among certain elements of the Blue and White Party to join the government to save the plan.

At the same time, it will be easier – one official said – for Netanyahu to put together a government without the plan on the table, than with it already having been presented.

Outgoing Kulanu MK Michael Oren, a former ambassador to the US, said Israelis must be “mindful that it is not only Israel’s electoral timetable that is to be considered, but also America’s.”

Oren pointed out that starting in November, right after the High Holy Days, America will go into full presidential election mode, “which narrows the window” of when the plan might be presented.

Trump is widely believed to not want to wait until the presidential election campaign begins to present the plan since, because of the expected concession demands to be made of Israel, this is something that could be opposed by those in his Evangelical base, who are opposed to any territorial concessions.

US special envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner’s team, however, has been silent on the matter of the plan’s release. No decision has been made as to the best time to roll out the plan, even though Israel’s election is over.

The common wisdom in Washington is that it won’t happen before mid-June.

Jews will celebrate Passover right after the elections, from April 19-26; and the Muslim month of Ramadan will take place May 5-June 4. Right after that, between June 8-9, Jews will celebrate Shavuot. Revealing the plan before or in between these holidays could make the plan lose momentum on Day One.

Greenblatt on Thursday sent a message to the Palestinian leadership regarding the plan.

“To the PA: Our plan will greatly improve Palestinian lives [and] create something very different than what exists,” he tweeted.

Greenblatt shared a Bloomberg report in which Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s adviser Nabil Shaath said that while Abbas is going to review the plan and not reject it right away, he does not expect it to be acceptable.

“There is nothing left really to dream of except that maybe if we accept to give up everything, then maybe they will give us a little bit of money,” Shaath told Bloomberg, speaking about the Trump administration. “We are not going to sell out our country for his money.”

Greenblatt responded that: “It’s a realistic plan to thrive/prosper even if it means compromises. It’s not a ‘sell out’ – if the plan isn’t realistic, no one can deliver it. The Palestinian future is in your hands – we hope you use your power wisely and in a way that helps Palestinians live happier and better lives. It’s time for them to thrive.”

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