Trump envoy says US peace plan won’t involve confederation with Jordan

Trump envoy says US peace plan won’t involve confederation with Jordan

Greenblatt also denies ‘rumors’ that the upcoming American initiative ‘contemplates making Jordan the homeland for Palestinians’

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

US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, said Wednesday that the administration’s long-awaited peace plan will not include a confederation between Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Jordan, and also will not make Jordan the “homeland for Palestinians.”

In a tweet, Greenblatt denounced “rumors” about the so-called “deal of the century,” and called the Hashemite Kingdom a strong US ally.

Confederations are unions between separate states or bodies that see members largely retain sovereignty, while sharing joint rule over certain aspects and policy issues. The idea of a confederation has been floated in recent months in the context of the US administration’s much-awaited peace proposal.

In September, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said President Donald Trump’s senior peace envoys had asked him what he thought of a confederation between Israel, Palestine and Jordan.

“I said [to the envoys, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt]: Yes, I want a three-way confederation, with Jordan and Israel,” Abbas said at the time.

But Greenblatt has consistently denied that a confederation was part of the plan. “We’re not looking at a confederation model,” he told The Times of Israel in September.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that the peace plan will include considerable economic incentives for Palestinians, but will likely stop short of full statehood.

The initiative expected to be introduced in the coming months will offer Palestinians an improved version of the status quo, highlighting “autonomy” over “sovereignty,” according to the US daily, which relied on interviews with anonymous American officials, in addition to individuals familiar with the proposal.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) shakes hands with the Prime Minister-Designate Mohammad Shtayyeh in the West Bank city of Ramallah, on April 13, 2019. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The report followed several interviews with members of Trump’s Middle East team in recent months, which also skirted the subject of Palestinian statehood.

Instead, Washington is expected to rely on tens of billions of dollars in aid and investment for Palestinians in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as for Egypt and Jordan, from wealthy Gulf states.

“The economic plan only works if the region supports it. This is a very important part of the overall equation,” a US official told the Post.

However, despite its expectation that Arab states will foot the bill, the Trump administration has also kept those countries in the dark regarding the plan details, offering no commitments that it will guarantee Palestinian statehood, the report said.

At the same time, Washington appeared to recognize that any plan that focuses solely on economic concerns and ignores political aspirations will be doomed to fail.

“But this is not a so-called economic peace. We are taking very seriously both aspects of this, the political, which deals with all the core issues, and the economic,” the official said.

“We understand that if the political aspect of it is not solid, the economic aspect is meaningless. But, at the same time, the political aspect will not succeed without a proper economic plan,” the official added.

The new Palestinian Authority prime minister last week said the American peace plan will be “born dead.”

In his first interview with the international media since taking office, Mohammad Shtayyeh predicted that the international community, including US allies in the Arab world, would join the Palestinians in rejecting Trump’s expected peace plan.

“There are no partners in Palestine for Trump. There are no Arab partners for Trump and there are no European partners for Trump,” Shtayyeh said.

Newly-appointed Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, at his office in Ramallah, March 10, 2019. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

The PA has boycotted the administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017. In response, Washington has slashed hundreds of millions of dollars of aid, including all of its support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees.

Shtayyeh said the Palestinians remain committed to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state in areas captured by Israel in the 1967 war. That includes establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed and claims as part of its eternal capital.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he does not believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s election promise to effectively annex West Bank settlements will hurt the Trump administration’s long-gestating peace plan. His comments would appear to indicate that the US plan does not provide for Palestinian statehood, or even for Palestinian control of substantive contiguous territory in the West Bank.

In interviews days before the elections earlier this month, Netanyahu said he intended to gradually apply Israeli law to all settlements, and that he hoped he could do so with the agreement of the United States.

Flatly ruling out Palestinian statehood, which he said would “endanger our existence,” Netanyahu promised to permanently maintain overall Israeli security control in the West Bank and to formalize Israeli rule over the 400,000-plus Israeli Jews in the settlements. This would apply not only to major settlement blocs, but also to isolated settlements, he indicated.

AP contributed to this report.

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