Nearly finished US peace plan won’t call for two-state solution — report

Nearly finished US peace plan won’t call for two-state solution — report

Senior White House officials say proposal also won't urge 'fair and just solution' to Palestinian refugees, but will offer specific prescriptions for borders and other issues

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and US President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office, March 5, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) and US President Donald Trump in the White House Oval Office, March 5, 2018 (Haim Tzach/GPO)

US President Donald Trump’s peace plan is nearly finished and the White House intends to present to the proposal soon, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Likening the plan to the Israeli-developed GPS app Waze — which allows users to bypass traffic jams — one senior US official told the paper that the “ultimate deal” would prevent both sides from falling into the traps that have sunk most other peace proposals.

Officials said the administration was putting finishing touches on the plan.

While the three senior officials interviewed for the article declined to provide the details of the proposal, they told The New York Times that it would not have a set of broad guiding principles as previous plans have been known to contain.

Instead, the document is said to provide specific solutions to the main issues of borders, security, refugees and the status of Jerusalem.

The officials anticipated that Israelis and Palestinians would accept some parts of the plan while rejecting others.

US President Donald Trump reaches to shake Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s hand before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

The US officials said it will not call for a two-state solution, but will provide pathways that would lead to the creation of two states. In addition, while the plan will not call for a “fair and just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees, as previous proposals have done, it will provide ways to handle the issue.

The senior officials told The New York Times that the traditional use of broad suggestions due to fear of alienating the sides had proved insufficient.

Palestinians have already expressed skepticism over the plan, accusing the US of bias toward Israeli positions following Trump’s December decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his aides have refused to meet with Trump administration officials since the president’s declaration, even turning down a Tuesday White House sit-down designed to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Palestinian frustration has been compounded by Washington’s decision in January to withhold some $100 million in aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

That month, Trump told the World Economic Forum in Davos that the Palestinians must return to peace talks in order to receive US aid money.

In February, the White House announced that it would open its Jerusalem embassy in May 2018 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s independence.

In this May 23, 2017 file photo, US President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner, File)

For the past several months, the Palestinians have insisted that the Trump administration could not play the role of honest broker in any peace process and have been shopping around for other countries or international bodies willing to replace Washington.

The plan has been in the works for several months, but administration officials have been mum on specific timing for its release. On Sunday, Netanyahu reportedly told members of his cabinet that there is still no “concrete” US peace plan, according to Channel 10 news.

“At the moment, there is no concrete American peace plan on the table. I’m not saying there won’t be, but at the moment there isn’t,” Netanyahu, who met with Trump and other US officials last week, was quoted as saying.

He told reporters in Washington that Palestinian peace efforts had taken only a small sliver of his bilateral meeting with Trump last Monday, with most of it focused on Iran.

Netanyahu has also been focused on crises at home, with contentious legislation to exempt ultra-Orthodox citizens from mandatory military service threatening to topple his government.

The prime minister also faces a slew of graft probes that have led his political opponents to question his ability to continue governing.

Last month, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted in a pair of corruption investigations, known as Cases 1000 and 2000.

He is also a suspect in the Case 4000 investigation involving suspicions that telecom giant Bezeq’s controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch ordered the Walla news site, which he owns, to grant positive coverage to the Netanyahus in exchange for the prime minister’s advancement of regulations benefiting him financially.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly government conference at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem on March 11, 2018.(Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, amounting to some NIS 1 million ($282,000) worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian resort owner James Packer, in return for certain benefits.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu has denied any wrongdoing in any of the cases.

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