Trump to decide on 'Deal of the Century' release date in coming days

Presenting the peace plan before the upcoming Israeli election might tilt the odds in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

US President Donald Trump speaks at the Israeli-American Council 2019 Summit. (photo credit: ISRAEL-AMERICAN COUNCIL)
US President Donald Trump speaks at the Israeli-American Council 2019 Summit.
US President Donald Trump is expected to decide in the coming days whether to present the White House's "Deal of the Century" before the Israeli election, Channel 13's political correspondent Barak Ravid has reported.
According to Ravid, there have been intense deliberation among Trump's advisers regarding the issue, but the president is presumably concerned about the possible effect the publication of the peace plan might have on Israel's March 2 election – as well as on his own re-election.
However, if Trump decides to wait until after the election, it may be difficult for him to present his plan later due to his own 2020 re-election campaign, Ravid wrote.

Presenting the plan before the election might tilt the odds in favor of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose primary focus in the run-up to the election is expected to be on the question of parliamentary immunity. 

After Netanyahu was indicted for bribery, fraud and breach of trust, his legal issues have also become the focus of the campaign by rival party Blue and White, which is currently also the largest party in the Knesset.

Trump's "Deal of the Century" to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the focus of much speculation. A December report by Lebanese pan-Arabist TV channel al-Mayadeen said that a draft copy of the plan showed Jerusalem would remain united mostly under Israeli control, with some responsibilities shared with a Palestinian state.

The reports also claimed that the plan includes the formation of "New Palestine" in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, with the settlement blocs to become part of sovereign Israel.

Netanyahu promised to annex the Jordan Valley before the end of the second election last fall. Then, US special envoy Jared Kushner advised the prime minister to wait until the plan is released.

Trump's decision on the plan's release date is expected to be influenced by developments in Congress concerning his impeachment process as well.
The peace plan is also expected to be one of the topics raised by Kushner at the World Economic Forum in Davos which is scheduled for January 21-24.

Kushner is also expected to attend the Fifth World Holocaust Forum on Thursday and to discuss the peace plan with Netanyahu and his rival, Blue and White leader and former chief of staff Benny Gantz.

The peace plan, according to reports, entails a Palestinian state to be created as the result of a trilateral understanding between Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas.

The PA has said it would not be willing to discuss the plan with the US, claiming it to be a violation of the previous agreements it signed with the State of Israel. The PA is also urging states to recognize the sovereignty of the State of Palestine.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to implement measures against Israel if it follows through with the plan, hinting they may include revoking the recognition of Israel and suspending its security coordination with the IDF in the West Bank.

In late December, Fatah, the ruling faction of the PLO, blamed Hamas for "promoting" the "Deal of the Century" plan, saying that "[Hamas leader Ismail] Haniyeh does not represent the Palestinian people," adding that "instead, he represents those who are conspiring against the Palestinian people."

Hamas, which does not recognize the Palestinian Authority as legitimate, seized power in the Gaza Strip through a violent takeover in June 2007.
The PA allegations came after Hamas announced that its security forces arrested a number of its intelligence officers on suspicion of helping Israel assassinate Palestinian Islamic Jihad military commander Baha Abu al-Ata in November.

Several US-sponsored peace plans have been on the table over the last 27 years, starting with the 1993 Oslo Accords. After Netanyahu assumed office in 2009, he supported a "demilitarized Palestinian state side by side with the Jewish state." He later imposed a 10-month construction moratorium on all settler housing starts at the beginning of former US president Barack Obama's administration. But the efforts did not lead to a full resumption of negotiations, save for two meetings between Netanyahu and Abbas.

Another round of peace talks was held for nine months in 2013-2014, with no results.

Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.