Jan 19, 2020

Trump to decide in coming days on when to release Middle East peace plan

Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

President Trump is expected to decide in the next several days whether to present the White House's Middle East peace plan before Israel's March 2 elections, Israeli and U.S. sources told me.

Why it matters: If the plan is presented before the Israeli elections, it could influence the campaign and possibly provide a boost to embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If Trump decides to wait, it could become difficult to present the plan at a later stage because of the presidential campaign in the U.S.

Behind the scenes: There have been intense deliberations over the past several days among the Trump advisers tasked with dealing with this issue. Trump himself still hasn’t had a discussion with his team on whether to present the plan before the Israeli elections.

Israeli and U.S. sources tell me Trump’s decision will be influenced by several factors:

  • Developments in the impeachment process in Congress.
  • The meetings Trump and his senior adviser Jared Kushner will have with different leaders from the Middle East and Europe during the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, where the peace plan will be one of the topics raised.
  • Kushner is expected to travel from Davos to Jerusalem on Wednesday to participate in the Fifth World Holocaust Forum, where he is likely to meet Netanyahu and his political opponent Benny Gantz — the leader of the Blue and White party — and discuss the peace plan.

Between the lines: Netanyahu wants the White House to present the plan in order to shift the focus of his campaign away from his corruption cases. Gantz wants the White House to wait and has even argued that releasing the peace plan ahead of the elections would amount to electoral interference.

White House officials told me Trump still hasn’t made a decision, but didn't deny that one could be coming soon.

Go deeper: Netanyahu faces new political headwinds ahead of election

Go deeper

Israel's Netanyahu, Gantz take a break from campaigning to visit the White House

Benny Gantz, Blue and White Party leader. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The two main contenders in Israel’s March 2 elections — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the leader of Blue and White party Benny Gantz — separately meet with President Trump today at the White House to discuss his peace plan, which is expected to be released tomorrow.  

Why it matters: Trump made this unusual move of inviting Netanyahu and Gantz, who is considered a party leader but holds no official position, because he wants to make sure both are on board regarding his peace plan, regardless of who wins the elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 27, 2020

White House urges Netanyahu not to begin annexations after peace plan, sources say

Netanyahu with Jared Kushner. Photo: Getty Images

The White House has made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that it expects him to hold off on any immediate unilateral steps — like annexing parts of the West Bank — after President Trump's peace plan is presented later today, three Israeli and U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu hoped to get a green light from the White House to begin annexations in the West Bank, something that would mobilize his base ahead of the March 2 elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020

White House opposes Israel's West Bank annexation prior to release of peace plan

Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Benny Gantz. Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty Staff, Jack Guez/Getty Contributor

The White House is opposed to Israel's moves to annex the West Bank prior to the release of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening.

Go deeperArrowJan 22, 2020