Trump envoy says peace plan won’t be released before Israeli elections

After president toys with revealing details of proposal before September vote, Jason Greenblatt rules it out; Netanyahu: Plan will likely be presented ‘very soon’ after election

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

In this Tuesday, 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)
In this Tuesday, 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)

American special envoy Jason Greenblatt on Wednesday said the White House will not be revealing its peace plan before Israel’s September 17 elections, days after US President Donald Trump said it was possible the proposal would be released beforehand.

“We have decided that we will not be releasing the peace vision (or parts of it) prior to the Israeli election,” Greenblatt tweeted.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told supporters at a Likud event in Bat Yam on Wednesday that the administration’s peace deal “will be presented to the world after the election. I believe it will likely be very soon after the election.”

On Monday, Trump was asked by reporters at the G7 summit whether he planned to introduce the political portion of his administration’s peace plan before Israel’s elections. He first said, “No of course not,” but moments later added, “but I think you may see what the deal is before the election,” sparking confusion as to Washington’s intentions.

He went on to tell reporters, “I think they want to make a deal, the Palestinians, and I think Israel would like to make a deal too. I think people, after so many years and decades, I think they’re a little tired of fighting.”

He also said: “I cut off most funding to the Palestinians, a lot of funding. And I think they’d like to get it back.”

Jason Greenblatt attends the Champions of Jewish Values International Awards gala at Carnegie Hall in New York, March 28, 2019. (Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)

The Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan was supposed to be unveiled over the summer, but its rollout was delayed after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to cobble together a coalition following the April elections and called for a fresh vote in September. That delay was a “complicating factor,” said Trump.

The US has so far kept the political elements of its plan under wraps, while the economic aspects of the proposal were presented in June by Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner at an American-led conference in Bahrain. The economic side of the plan would see a $50 billion investment package for the Palestinians and the wider region.

The Palestinians skipped the Bahrain conference and have rejected the peace plan outright, pressing on with their boycott of the administration since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

The Trump administration has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to the Palestinians, including all of its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees and nearly $200 million earmarked for humanitarian programs in the West Bank and Gaza. It also closed the PLO representative office in Washington.

No details have been published so far about how the plan tackles key issues such as a potential independent Palestinian state, Israeli control over the West Bank, the fate of Jerusalem and the so-called “right of return” for Palestinians to homes from which their families fled or were expelled after Israel’s creation in 1948.

US officials have indicated that they will back “Palestinian autonomy” and self-governance, but stopped short of endorsing the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Netanyahu said he is willing to wait and see the contents of the plan, but has reiterated he will not compromise on Israel’s security or evacuate settlements.

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