Trump peace plan said to include major economic scheme for Palestinians

White House official says plan will include most detailed proposals yet, strategy for rolling it out still being developed

Soldiers guard as an ultra-Orthodox man walks by in the West Bank city of Hebron on July 22, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)
Soldiers guard as an ultra-Orthodox man walks by in the West Bank city of Hebron on July 22, 2018. (Wisam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

A long-awaited US plan for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will include the most-detailed proposals ever offered to the parties, a White House official said Wednesday.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the plan would include a major economic component, according to Reuters.

The White House has yet to announce a schedule for releasing the plan, and the official said a strategy for rolling it out was still being developed.

Expectations that the White House would begin pushing the plan ramped up last month when top White House aide Jared Kushner and senior negotiator Jason Greenblatt toured the region, apparently to drum up support for the scheme in Israel and among Arab allies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

US President Donald Trump has long promised to try and reach the so-called “deal of the century” to end the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but his efforts have derailed since his decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has castigated the move, declared the US no longer an honest broker in negotiations, and rejected any plan the White House may come out with, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas calling it the “slap of the century,” earlier this year.

The Palestinians have refused to meet with the US to discuss peace overtures since December, when Trump announced the move and declared he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, June 27, 2018. (Alaa Badarneh/Pool Photo via AP)

Abbas, who did not meet with Kushner or Greenblatt, also protested last month after signals emerged that the plan may seek to deal with the West Bank and Gaza as two separate entities.

Israeli reports earlier this month indicated the plan had been put on hold with tensions between Israel and Gaza on the rise. A shaky calm on the volatile border since Saturday had managed to push both sides from the brink of war, but the quiet was broken Wednesday after an Israeli officer was shot by a Gazan sniper and Israel responded with strikes on Hamas positions, killing three members of the terror group.

The administration official said experts were working on finishing up the main parts of the proposal and the economic package and did not offer any details on what the proposals might contain.

Previous US plans have included proposals and maps dealing with potential land swaps, security guarantees and other issues, but have left out thornier issues like Jerusalem and the Palestinian demand for refugees and their descendants to return to pre-1967 Israel.

This Sunday, June 24, 2018 file photo offers a view of the plenum hall of what was to be a Palestinian parliament in Abu Dis in the West Bank. (AP Photo/Dusan Vranic, File)

It’s not clear if the US plan will address those sticking points. Trump has said in the past that his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital took the issue “off the table.” Some reports have indicated the US may offer Jerusalem suburb Abu Dis as a capital instead of East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians demand be the seat of their future state.

It’s unclear what type of economic package may be on the table, but the comment comes a week after an op-ed in the Washington Post from Kushner, Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called on Gaza’s Hamas rulers to end their support for terror in exchange for lavish US aid.

On Tuesday, US envoy Nikki Haley told the UN Security Council that the US continued to be one of the biggest financial supporters of the Palestinians, far outstripping Muslim countries which are more vocal supporters of the Palestinian cause.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during a United Nations Security Council meeting at UN Headquarters, July 24, 2018 in New York City. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

The US has frozen millions in aid to the UN’s refugee agency for the Palestinians, and has cut funding for the PA over Abbas’s refusal to enter negotiations and Ramallah’s payments to terror convicts and their families.

She threatened that the largess could be cut further if the PA continued to castigate Washington.

“We are not fools. If we extend a hand in friendship and generosity, we do not expect our hand to be bitten,” she said.

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