Trump said it would be rolled out “sometime prior” to his meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz in Washington on Tuesday.
By Associated Press and United with Israel Staff
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’ll likely release his long-awaited Mideast peace plan before his meeting early next week at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz.
“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One en route to a Republican Party meeting in Florida.
The plan, which would be rolled out as Trump’s Senate impeachment trial continues on Capitol Hill, is expected to be pro-Israel, which would please U.S. evangelical and Jewish voters. It also comes as Netanyahu seeks immunity from Israeli lawmakers from charges stemming from corruption investigations.
Trump said he was surprised that both Netanyahu and Gantz were willing to take a break from campaigning for the March 2 elections to join him Tuesday in Washington.
“They both would like to do the deal. They want to see peace,” Trump said. “Look, Israel wants peace, Palestinians want peace. They all want peace. Not everyone wants to say it.”
He said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who have rejected the administration’s peace plan even before its release.
“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first, but it’s actually very positive to them.”
“We took away their money,” Trump added. “That’s a lot of money for them,. Trump added, referring to the defunding of the terror-promoting UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA).
Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation for Netanyahu and Gantz to visit during a meeting with the prime minister in Jerusalem after addressing the Fifth World Holocaust Forum on Thursday. He said that at Netanyahu’s request, the invitation was also issued to Gantz.
Asked when he would release the plan, which has been shepherded by the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump said it would be rolled out “sometime prior” to his meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz. “Probably we’ll release it a little bit prior to that.”
“We have had no better friend than President Trump,” Netanyahu said. “With this invitation, I think that the president is seeking to give Israel the peace and security that it deserves.”
Abbas ‘Warns’ US, Israel Against ‘Crossing Red Lines’
The Palestinians rejected Trump’s peace efforts after he recognized disputed Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moved the U.S. Embassy there in May 2018. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in the 1967 war and annexed, to be their capital.
“If this deal is announced with these rejected formulas, the leadership will announce a series of measures in which we safeguard our legitimate rights, and we will demand Israel assume its full responsibilities as an occupying power,” said Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
“We warn Israel and the U.S. administration from crossing the red lines,” Abu Rdeneh said.
Israel’s Channel 12 TV, citing Israeli officials, said the plan is expected to be extremely favorable toward Israel and offer it control over large parts of Judea and Samaria. The Palestinians seek the entire territory, including eastern Jerusalem – which was also liberated by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, when the tiny Jewish state was attacked by the surrounding Arab countries – as the heartland of a future independent state.
Defense Minister Naftali Bennett, leader of the Yamina party, called Trump a “true friend” of Israel and said the country likely stands before a “historic opportunity.” But he said his party would not allow the transfer of any land to Palestinian control or for a Palestinian state to be established.
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