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Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

The White House "peace team" has essentially finished drafting the administration's Middle East peace plan, but White House officials told me the plan will not be presented during the month of Ramadan. Only when it ends — three weeks from now — will there be a decision regarding if, when and how to launch it.

The bottom line: That decision will be made by President Trump, and a White House official tells me they'll wait until "the time and circumstances are right." For a number of reasons, it's unclear when that might be.

  • Palestinian leadership is boycotting the White House over Trump's Jerusalem embassy move and is not willing to accept peace talks moderated by the U.S. Meanwhile, the Palestinians are campaigning against Israel and the U.S. at the United Nations.
  • The U.S. dilemma also has to do with Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu is under police investigation and more interested in dealing with the Iranian threat than the peace process. Netanyahu's right-wing coalition has very little appetite for peace plans which include concessions to the Palestinians.
  • The volatile situation in Gaza and the fear of further escalation only deepens the White House dilemma. Trump's advisers are trying to come up with a path for easing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza before or as part of launching the peace plan, but for now it is yet to be found.
  • And if that wasn't enough, the fact that Palestinian President Abbas was admitted to the hospital this week for the third time in seven days served as a reminder that that Abbas is nearing the end of his political career and might lack the willingness or legitimacy to make historic decisions regarding a peace plan.

The latest:

  • The "peace team" — Senior adviser Jared Kushner, Special envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman — discussed the peace plan last week with Netanyahu, a day before the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.
  • A White House official told me: "We continue to seek ways to find  a way forward on Gaza. It is extremely challenging because of Hamas' activities, and none of our partners have any serious plans that work while Hamas continues its behavior in Gaza. Fixing the situation in Gaza is important whether the peace plan is successful or not. There is too much suffering caused in Gaza because of Hamas. We believe that the Arab world knows that Hamas is responsible for the dire situation in Gaza, and we would hope that they begin to publicly put the responsibility for the violence on Hamas." 

White House officials emphasize that regardless of the difficulties, Trump is still committed to getting a peace deal. Trump's advisers think both Israelis and Palestinians will like parts of the U.S. peace plan and hate other parts of it. White House officials think the plan is still relevant and that only after it is presented they will be able to determine whether their effort to promote Middle East peace is over or just beginning. 

Go deeper

How long it’s taken to confirm Supreme Court justices

Expand chart
Data: Axios research, U.S. Supreme Court, Supreme Court Historical Society; Chart: Jacque Schrag/Axios

It takes a U.S. president an average of 70 days from the date a Supreme Court seat is vacated to nominate a replacement, according to data from the Supreme Court Historical Society.

Why it matters: With news outlets reporting liberal Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer's plans to retire, Democrats will be looking to confirm President Biden's nominee with enough time to refocus the national political debate ahead of the midterms.

Updated 26 mins ago - Science

Blizzard likely to hit New England this weekend as "bomb cyclone" forms

Computer model projection of the precipitation and wind field from the weekend storm in the Northeast. (Earth.nullschool.net)

A powerful blizzard is likely to strike parts of New England and the Mid-Atlantic beginning Friday and lasting into the weekend, with snow totals that are likely to be measured in feet.

The big picture: The joining of weather systems embedded in both the polar, or northern branch, of the jet stream and the southern branch is projected to create a bomb cyclone. Such storms undergo a process known as bombogenesis, with their minimum central air pressure readings plunging at least 24 millibars in 24 hours.

Schumer vows to confirm Breyer replacement "with all deliberate speed"

Chuck Schumer. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer responded Wednesday to reports that Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer will retire, commending his time on the bench and promising to confirm President Biden's nominated replacement "with all deliberate speed."

Why it matters: The opportunity to appoint a new Supreme Court justice will be one of the longest-lasting pieces of Biden's legacy and could energize Democrats ahead of the midterms.