US/World News

Israeli officials criticize reported ‘key principles’ of Trump peace plan

By Andrew Tobin/(JTA) – The White House quickly denied an Israeli TV news report that claimed to reveal “key principles” of a U.S. plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace. However, that has not kept Israeli officials from setting conditions on any future negotiations. Israel’s Hadashot news reported Saturday night, Nov. 18, that the Trump administration’s peace plan will recognize a Palestinian state, but will not insist Israel uproot any settlements in the West Bank. It also said Washington will back most of Israel’s security demands. According to the report, Trump will “not necessarily” ask Israel to negotiate based on its borders from before the 1967 Six-Day War, when it conquered the West Bank.

Hadashot quoted what it said were senior Israelis involved in the ongoing discussions with Trump’s peace team, which was first reported to be drafting a peace plan earlier this month. Saturday’s report said the plan will be presented within months. In response, a White House official told Hadashot news it was “speculative” and “not necessarily accurate.”

As for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the report said he was pushing for Israel to maintain security control over all of the West Bank – something he has publicly demanded. It said Netanyahu told his ministers that Israel could not afford to reject Trump’s peace deal, which would be the best offer the Jewish state would ever get. Indeed, no previous president has agreed to let Israel leave the settlers in place, and former President Barack Obama said peace negotiations should be based on the 1967 lines. But Trump has previously said he was not wedded to the two-state solution.

The Prime Minister’s Office responded Saturday that the Hadashot report is “not accurate.” On Sunday, Netanyahu said he would react to the plan based on Israel’s “security and national interests,” which he said Washington already understood.

Hadashot reported that Trump’s plan will allow Israeli troops to remain along the Jordan border. The report said the plan will not address moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, as Trump promised during his presidential campaign, or recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. To encourage Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to accept the deal, the report said, Sunni Arab states and others will provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic aid to the Palestinians.

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