US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will likely release his long-awaited peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits Washington, DC, next week.
Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to Miami for a political event, Trump said Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first, but that it would benefit them.
“It’s a great plan,” said Trump, who will meet with Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday. “It’s a plan that really would work.” He is also expected to meet Netanyahu’s election rival, Benny Gantz.
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Trump said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who have rejected the administration’s peace plan before it even comes out.
“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said earlier on Thursday that Palestinians “warn Israel and the US administration not to cross any red lines”.
Trump had earlier appeared to dispel rumours that the plan would be released next week, tweeting that “details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative”.
But onboard Air Force One, he confirmed that the plan would be released before Netanyahu’s visit.
The launch of Trump’s plan to end the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been delayed numerous times since it was first mooted more than two years ago. Prospects for a breakthrough appear dim and details of the plan have been kept under wraps.
Dead in water
Palestinians have called Trump’s proposal dead in the water, even before its publication, pointing to what they see as his pro-Israel policies.
The Trump administration has reversed decades of US policy on the conflict, refraining from endorsing the “two-state solution” – the longtime international formula which envisages a Palestinian state co-existing with Israel.
It has also recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy there. More recently, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced in November that the US no longer viewed Israel’s settlements on West Bank land as “inconsistent with international law”, reversing decades of policies that were in line with most of the international community, which views settlements as illegal under international law.