United States president, Donald Trump, has said he would release details of his Middle East peace plan Tuesday, and the long-awaited package is expected to propose a dramatic remapping of the West Bank while offering Palestinians a pathway to statehood if they meet a set of tests.
Trump described his proposals for Middle East peace in private meetings Monday with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and the veteran Israeli leader’s challenger in upcoming elections, Benny Gantz.
No Palestinians attended the White House preview of what is described as a highly detailed proposal for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that dates from Israel’s founding in 1948.
“In the business world, when I was back in the business world, when a deal was tough, people would jokingly refer to it as, ‘This is tougher than Israel and the Palestinians getting together,’ ” Trump said as he welcomed Netanyahu for an Oval Office briefing on the secretive package. “And that’s what I’ve heard all my life, and so we’ll see what happens. We have something that makes a lot of sense for everybody.”
The package is expected to propose a redrawn border between Israel and the West Bank that would incorporate large Jewish settlements into Israel proper, while continuing some forms of Israeli security control over the territory Israel seized in 1967 and has occupied since, according to two people familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the proposal has not been released.
Trump predicted that “we will ultimately have the support of the Palestinians” but also appeared to confirm expectations that the White House proposals are generous to close ally Israel.
“That’s a plan that Bibi, maybe, and his opponent, I must say, they have to like very much,” Trump said, calling Netanyahu by his nickname.
Gantz met with Trump separately at the White House as part of the administration’s strategy to release the U.S. guidelines for a settlement before Israelis vote in March. Netanyahu and Gantz are in a dead heat after two inconclusive elections in the past year. Both have said they welcome the Trump plan.
It is expected to offer limited autonomy to Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem that would increase over about a three-year timeline if Palestinian leadership undertook new political measures, renounced violence and took other steps in negotiation with Israel, the people familiar with the plan said.
The 50-page plan developed by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner is expected to include proposals addressing each of the major issues that have scuttled past peace efforts, including competing land claims and the administration of holy sites in Jerusalem.
“There are a lot of goodies in there for the Palestinians — a lot — but by no means all of what they have long sought,” one of the people said.
“They have within their grasp a state” if they meet certain security and political benchmarks, that person said.
That conditional sovereignty appears to fall far short of the long-standing international goal of a separate, fully independent Palestinian state. But it also “acknowledges reality as it is,” with expanding Israeli settlements, a desperate Palestinian economy and shrinking political horizons for young people, that person said.
The Kushner package essentially assesses that the Palestinian bargaining position is poor and getting worse, and it asks Palestinian leaders to negotiate for part of a loaf rather than watch the whole loaf disappear, said people who have heard Kushner and other authors describe the proposal.