Report: Trump peace proposal will seek regional deal, won’t set timetable

Channel 2 says administration wants to bring Arab states to table, thinks Abbas is ‘serious,’ will not impose terms. US, in response, says no imminent intention to unveil its plan

US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)
US President Donald Trump, left, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas pose for a photograph during a joint press conference at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, on May 23, 2017. (AFP/Mandel Ngan)

US President Donald Trump’s administration will shortly unveil a formal proposal for Middle East peace that aims to enable a “comprehensive regional arrangement,” but that will not be imposed on the sides, and that will not feature a rigid timetable, Israel’s Channel 2 news reported on Sunday evening.

The proposal has been drawn up on the basis that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a credible leader who genuinely seeks a permanent accord, the report said, quoting unnamed sources in the Trump administration.

The sources said that, were that not the case, the Trump peace team would not have spent so much time on the issue.

The TV report said the US proposal would be aimed at bringing Arab states to the peace table with Israel, and that its components would be open to negotiation by all sides.

US President Donald Trump (C-L) and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) arrive for the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

Such an approach would apparently represent a departure from previous US peace efforts, which focused primarily on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued repeatedly that progress on the Palestinian front can be best achieved in the wider context of warming Israeli ties with Arab states.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) and US President Donald Trump shake hands prior to their meeting at the Palace Hotel in New York City ahead of the United Nations General Assembly on September 18, 2017.(AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski)

President Donald Trump’s administration aims to act quickly and efficiently to advance the goal of a comprehensive regional deal, but will not impose an “artificial timetable” and will not seek to impose terms, the TV report said. Again, the absence of a timetable would mark an adjusted US approach.

Contacted by The Times of Israel, an administration official said the US was continuing its peace efforts but had no immediate plans to present a proposal.

“It would be more newsworthy if we weren’t working towards an enduring peace. We are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties about an enduring peace deal but are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything. We have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both the Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them,” the official said.

Administration officials have in the past made plain that a proposal will be put forward at some point in the near future, and that the administration will discuss its specifics at that time.

The TV report said administration officials have revealed aspects of the proposal to Democratic politicians. An unnamed Democratic source was quoted saying that the Trump officials promised the Democrats that they would be “pleased” with the approach.

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir (R) speaks with Jason Greenblatt, the US president’s assistant and special representative for international negotiations, during the Arab Summit in the Jordanian Dead Sea resort of Sweimeh, on March 29, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

The TV report said the administration was highly aware of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security concerns.

It said that Netanyahu has told his ministers that Trump is a businessman and that he would likely demand a price from those who say no to him. For that reason, Netanyahu prefers at this stage not to argue with the president, it further quoted the prime minister as saying.

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