Aug 1, 2019

Trump set to decide whether to release peace plan before Israel votes

Kushner with Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump is expected to decide by the end of August whether to release the political part of his Middle East peace plan before Israel's elections on Sept. 17, sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: There's a lot of skepticism in Washington and the Middle East about the plan's likelihood of success — but the release of its political elements could have significant influence on the Israeli elections and the formation of a governing coalition.

  • September's elections are a rerun of April's vote, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won before failing to form a coalition. Before that election, Netanyahu publicly opposed the plan's release.

Jared Kushner, Trump's point person on Middle East peace, is visiting the region this week to follow up on June's conference in Bahrain on the economic part of the peace plan.

  • One goal of Kushner’s trip is to take the temperature in Arab capitals about the plan's possible release.
  • The White House hopes Arab countries will support the plan, or at least not publicly reject it.

Kushner visited Saudi Arabia on Tuesday and met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

  • On Wednesday, he met with King Abdullah of Jordan, who said in a subsequent statement that he had emphasized to Kushner that any peace plan must include a Palestinian state based on the 1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.
    • The U.S. peace plan is likely to fall short of those parameters — a source of anxiety for Jordan.
  • On Wednesday evening, Kushner arrived in Jerusalem and met with Netanyahu.
  • On Thursday, he will travel to Egypt for a meeting with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and from there to Morocco for a meeting with King Mohammed VI.
  • Kushner is then expected to spend a few weeks in Bedminster, New Jersey, where Trump will spend his summer vacation.

What to watch: A White House official told me that Kushner and his team will be reporting back to Trump about their trip and that consultations with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton will inform the next steps of the peace plan.

Go deeper

Trump says he may present Middle East peace plan before Israeli elections

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

President Trump said Monday during a meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the G7 in Biarritz, France, that he may present his long awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel's Sept. 17 elections.

Why it matters: The Palestinian issue is politically explosive in Israel. Before the April elections, Trump decided to postpone the release of his peace plan until a new Israeli government could be put in place, but today's comments show he might act differently this time.

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Trump won't release peace plan before Israel's election

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President Trump has decided not to publish his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, or parts of it, before Israel's Sept. 17 elections, White House special envoy Jason Greenblatt said in a tweet.

Why it matters: Trump has spoken twice about this issue in the last 2 weeks, and he had raised the possibility the plan would be at least partially released before the elections. That could have had a big influence on the outcome of the elections and on the formation of the next governing coalition. The president and his Middle East “peace team," headed by Jared Kushner, had several discussions on this issue before deciding to wait, a White House official tells me.

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Scoop: Jared Kushner tells donors ex-prisoners are joining the GOP

Photo: Michael Reynolds - Pool/Getty Images

Jared Kushner told Republican donors that felons are coming out of jail and registering as Republicans, according to sources who attended a donor retreat in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, last week.

Behind the scenes: "I guess climate change is not their No. 1 issue," Kushner joked of the former prisoners, according to sources who attended the dinner where Kushner spoke. The audience of Republican donors burst out laughing at this comment, these sources said. The remarks came as Kushner and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy discussed the prison reform bill that Trump signed into law at the end of the last Congress.

Go deeperArrowAug 25, 2019