Former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot warned US President Donald Trump’s top negotiator for Israeli-Palestinian peace to consider the “volatile” situation in the West Bank before releasing the White House’s peace plan, Channel 13 news reported on Sunday.
The network said the meeting between Eisenkot and Jason Greenblatt took place last Tuesday in Washington. A number of experts on the Israeli-Palestinian peace process also sat in on the meeting, among them veteran negotiators of peace efforts during past administrations.
“The situation in the West Bank is sensitive and volatile,” Eisenkot was quoted as saying, pointing to US aid cuts and the Palestinian Authority’s mounting economic woes.
“The West Bank is likely to ignite before, during, or after the presentation of the American peace plan. You must factor this into your considerations,” Eisenkot reportedly continued. “From the moment this genie is let out of the bottle, it will take five years to put it back.”
Eisenkot said that, regardless of whether the Trump plan is rolled out, the US should take steps to stabilize the situation in the West Bank, noting that it would be “win-win for both sides.” Among his recommendations were restoring US funding for the Palestinian Authority security apparatus, and finding ways to improve the economic situation, infrastructure, and education in the West Bank.
Greenblatt replied that Washington is aware of the dangers, sources present at the meeting told the network.
Eisenkot, whose term as IDF chief ended in mid-January, was reported to have issued similar warnings while still in uniform.
The White House has said that it will release its proposal, dubbed by Trump as the “deal of the century,” after a new Israeli government is formed and the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan in early June. The plan is expected to be rejected by the Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration over its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and its perceived pro-Israel bias.
Trump’s senior White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has indicated that the peace plan will address all the core “final status” issues and serve as a detailed “starting point” for resolving the conflict. He has also indicated that it will not provide for a two-state solution — the traditional basis for attempts to resolve the conflict.
On Sunday evening, Channel 12 reported the Trump administration’s peace proposal will provide for all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to remain under Israeli rule in any permanent accord, and that Washington will not oppose the extension of Israeli law to the communities.
Some 400,000 Israeli Jews live in West Bank settlements, and the Trump plan will recognize that all those Israeli-settled areas “will remain in Israeli hands under a permanent accord,” the report said.
In the run up to last month’s elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised several times to variously “apply Israeli sovereignty” and/or “extend Israeli law” to all the settlements, and said he hoped he would be able to do so with American support. Sunday’s TV report said that were Israel to extend Israeli law to all the settlements, the US “won’t oppose, or will be okay with, or won’t make a fuss about” such a move.
Having won the April elections, Netanyahu is now working to put together a multi-party coalition that is expected to include right-wing nationalist parties.