'When they suggest it, we'll see,' premier says

Netanyahu sees ‘no urgency’ in advancing Trump peace plan

PM says it is US president's 'business' to promote his proposal, asserts Washington isn't 'blind' to Palestinian aversion to it

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a remembrance ceremony at the Paneriai Holocaust Memorial near Vilnius, August 24, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Petras Malukas)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday that he saw “no urgency” in advancing US President Donald Trump’s peace plan, whose details have yet to be revealed.

“It is his business if he wants to promote it,” Netanyahu told reporters during a briefing in Lithuania, where he is visiting. “He occasionally comments on the matter, and it may come, though I see no urgency in the matter.”

Asked about Palestinian aversion to the plan, which has delayed its unveiling, the prime minister said, “The Americans are thinking about it. They aren’t blind. But I don’t know — when they suggest it, we’ll see.”

On Tuesday night, Trump told a campaign rally in Charleston, West Virginia, that Israel will “pay a higher price” and the Palestinians “will get something very good” in any future negotiations in return for the US having recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

“It was a good thing to have done,” Trump said of his recognition of Jerusalem and the relocation of the US embassy to the capital, “because we took it off the table. Because every time there were peace talks, they never got past Jerusalem becoming the capital. So I said, let’s take it off the table. And you know what? In the negotiation, Israel will have to pay a higher price, because they won a very big thing.”

Later, seeking to allay Israeli concerns, senior US officials told Channel 10 that “the US will not impose unacceptable conditions on Israel in its peace plan.”

US National Security Adviser, Ambassador John Bolton, attends a press conference in Jerusalem, on August 22, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

At the same time, an Israeli official noted that US National Security Adviser John Bolton had clarified the American president’s comments. Bolton, who was on a visit to Jerusalem, had said earlier on Wednesday the president’s speech did not represent a change in the US administration’s policy on peace negotiations.

Bolton had stressed that there was no “quid pro quo” involved in the US decisions regarding Jerusalem.

“I don’t think there’s any change in policy. I think the president looked at the recognition of Jerusalem as being Israel’s capital and the inevitable consequence of that is that the US embassy ought to be in the capital city of the country which its accredited as the right and natural thing to do,” the senior Trump aide said. “It’s not an issue of quid pro quo.”

A Palestinian Authority official, in response, called on Trump to recognize a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital and declare the two-state solution the “sole” solution to the conflict.

In the wake of the US president’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital last December, PA officials have been refusing to meet with members of Trump’s cabinet, declaring them unfit to act as an honest mediator in negotiations.

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