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Washington Post: Pompeo concedes Middle East plan "may be rejected"

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo appears with Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto (not pictured) at the foreign ministry on February 11, 2019 in Budapest, Hungary.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Photo: Laszlo Balogh/Getty images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Jewish leaders "one might argue" that the White House's upcoming Middle East plan is "unexecutable" and might not "gain traction," reports the Washington Post, which obtained audio of the closed-door meeting.

The latest: President Trump told reporters Sunday Pompeo "may be right" to express caution. "But if we can get a Mid-East peace plan that would be good," Trump said, according to The Hill. "And when Mike says that, I understand when he says that, because most people think it can’t be done. I think it probably can. But as I say often, we’ll see what happens."

QuoteIt may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, 'It's not particularly original, it doesn't particularly work for me,' that is, 'it's got two good things and nine bad things, I'm out.'"
— Mike Pompeo, per Washington Post

Details: The release of the plan — led by President Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, has been repeatedly delayed — something Pompeo noted during the private meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations on Tuesday. He conceded it had "taken us longer to roll out our plan than I had originally thought it might — to put it lightly," according to the Post.

  • Pompeo said there are "no guarantees that we’re the ones that unlock" the deadlocked conflict, but he hoped "everyone will engage in a serious way," per the Post.
  • "I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love," Pompeo said, addressing the widespread belief that the plan will favor the Israeli government. "I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit."

The big picture: While some meeting attendees told the Post they got the impression that Pompeo was not confident in the likely success of the plan, others said they thought he "provided a hopeful assessment over the prospect of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians."

Why it matters: Pompeo's frank statements of the challenges the plan faces are the most "unvarnished comments to date," the Post notes.

  • The revelations come as Kushner expressed doubt during an interview on "Axios on HBO," broadcast Sunday, that Palestinians can govern themselves without Israeli interference. "The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing," he told Axios' Jonathan Swan.

Between the lines: Swan notes that Kushner represents a president whose actions have so far been all-in for Israel. Kushner's comments indicate he wants to "drive a wedge between the Palestinian people and their leadership and in so doing may make the sales pitch for his future plan even harder," Swan writes.

Go deeper: Kushner: "I'm not here to be trusted by Palestinian leaders"