TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s long-awaited peace plan will include major economic and other incentives for Palestinians, but is likely to stop short of establishing a Palestinian state, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
The plan will likely “enshrine” Israeli control in the West Bank, the report said, citing anonymous U.S. officials as well as Arab officials familiar with “sales pitches” delivered by Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
Washington will call for tens of billions of dollars in aid from Gulf nations to be invested into both the West Bank and Gaza Strip, as well as Egypt and Jordan.
“The economic plan only works if the region supports it. This is a very important part of the overall equation,” a U.S. official told the Post. “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.”
“Core issues” generally refers to borders, status of Jerusalem, and the so-called right of return in which Palestinian “refugees” in the diaspora and their descendants will have the right to move inside Israeli proper, something that has always been a red line for Israel since it would spell the end of the Jewish state by demographic means.
The timing of unveiling the plan is “still being worked out,” a U.S. official said.
Days before the April 9 elections, Netanyahu historically declared that he fully intends to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. The incumbent prime minister also said he had told President Donald Trump that would not evacuate “a single person” from the 400,000 or so Jews residing in the area.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday said he did not believe Netanyahu’s talk of annexation would damage the peace plan.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he thought Netanyahu “vowing to annex the West Bank” could harm the Trump proposal, Pompeo answered, “I don’t.”
“I think that the vision that we’ll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used,” he added.
“We’ve had a lot of ideas for 40 years. They did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said. “Our idea is to put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem.”
The Trump administration, he said, wants “a better life” for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We hope that we can get to a better place,” he continued. “Everyone wants this conflict resolved. We want a better life for the Israelis without this conflict, and we certainly want a better life for the people of — the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.”
Netanyahu also told Army Radio that the Palestinians would not have a state or security control.
“There will be no Palestinian state,” he said, “not like the one people are talking about. It won’t happen.”
During a heated debate with Senator Tim Kaine last week, Pompeo refused to outright endorse a two-state solution to the conflict.
The Washington Post report cited Israel’s UN Ambassador Danny Danon saying that Israel is anticipating the peace plan while the Palestinian leadership has rejected it sight unseen.
“We will welcome it; we will look at it. We are open-minded,” Danon said. “Unlike the Palestinians, we do respect the work that was done by the team, and we will be willing to look at it and speak about it. The Palestinians say exactly the opposite — they say we don’t want to speak with the Israelis, and we don’t want to see the plan that was drafted by the U.S.”