US officials deny report Biden imminently unveiling peace plan, recognizing Palestinian state

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, attends a meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hussein al-Sheikh, during a day of meetings about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the Jordanian capital Amman on November 4, 2023. (JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, right, attends a meeting with Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi, Saudi Arabia's Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan al-Saud, Qatar's Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Secretary General of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Hussein al-Sheikh, during a day of meetings about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the Jordanian capital Amman on November 4, 2023. (JONATHAN ERNST / POOL / AFP)

While there have been reports in the past week that the US is preparing to imminently unveil a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that could include the US unilaterally recognizing a Palestinian state, two US officials speaking to The Times of Israel say this is far from the case. Unilateral recognition, either at the bilateral level or at the UN, would be far more difficult to pull off both legally and politically, the officials explain.

“We are not seriously discussing or considering any changes to the longstanding US policy that any recognition of a Palestinian state must come through direct negotiations between the parties rather than through unilateral recognition at the UN,” one US official says.

The two officials clarified that the US’s tougher approach regarding Israeli policy in the West Bank does not detract from its continued support of Israel’s war aims in Gaza. One of the officials pointed to the administration’s decision to veto another UN Security Council resolution Tuesday calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza — a step that further isolated the US on the world stage in its defense of Israel.

They noted that Washington continues to oppose a permanent ceasefire but has in recent days begun expressing its support for a “temporary ceasefire.”

This isn’t different in principle from the “humanitarian pauses” it has been advocating for months, but the decision to begin using the word “ceasefire,” even if it is qualified as a temporary one, represents a subtle shift in the administration’s position, the officials acknowledged.

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