Experts question accuracy of Mideast peace plan leak

CH13’s Barak Ravid reports, based on notes from a recent briefing by a U.S. official: “President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan would propose a Palestinian state on as much as 90 percent of the occupied West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem – but not including its holy sites… The plan would entail Israel annexing Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank while isolated settlements would either be evacuated or their construction halted. Trump wants the proposed Israeli moves to be supplemented by territorial swaps with the Palestinians, and for East Jerusalem’s walled Old City – site of major Jewish, Muslim and Christian shrines – to be under Israeli sovereignty but with the joint management of the Palestinians and Jordan.” [Reuters; 10TV]

Senior White House official tells us: “As in the past, speculation with regards to the content of the plan is not accurate. We have no further comment.”

— Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt, however, did have further comment. “While I respect Barak Ravid, his report on Israel’s Ch. 13 is not accurate,” Greenblatt tweeted. “Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it… for now. Over the coming period, unnamed sources will peddle narratives to the media and others based on motivations that are far from pure. Peddling false, distorted or biased stories to the media is irresponsible and harmful to the process. Israelis and Palestinians deserve better. I highly recommend that people listen only to official statements directly from POTUS, David Friedman, Jared Kushner, or me about the plan.”

VIEW FROM JERUSALEM ― Former Knesset Member Dr. Einat Wilf emails us: “The response of Israelis to Trump’s peace plan will in large part depend on the reaction in the broader Arab world — if Israelis would get the sense that by saying yes to the deal, they would receive full peace and normalization with the entire Arab and Islamic world, and that the Arab world will mobilize to ensure that the Palestinians finally put behind them their maximalist demands for the entirety of the land in the form of ‘return,’ the response will be a resounding yes.”

The Yamin HeHadash Party, led by Ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, said in a statement: “The United States is Israel’s greatest friend, and President Trump is a true friend of Israel. However, Israel’s security and Israel’s well-being precede any other interest. Therefore, the Yamin HeHadash Party will not sit in a government that will divide Jerusalem and establish a Palestinian state.”

WAS THIS A TRIAL BALLOON? ― Amb. Dan Shapiro tells us: “It’s hard to know how authoritative this report is. If this were the plan that the Trump Administration presents, it would almost certainly be rejected by both sides. Besides the Palestinians’ estrangement from Trump, this plan would fall short or is silent on several issues of importance to them. On the Israeli side, the current coalition, and an ongoing election campaign, are not hospitable to several elements of the plan.”

“I continue to believe that it likely that no plan will ever be presented, and it is a near certainty none will be presented before a new Israeli government is in place. At some point, presentation of a well-rounded, realistic vision of two states  — which this is not — could be useful, not as a basis for near-term negotiations, but as a tool to help keep the two-state solution alive and viable for later negotiations when different leaderships have emerged.”

CFR’s Martin Indyk emails: “The details make the Trump Plan sound very close to the Kerry Plan, which makes me suspect that it’s not accurate. Besides, one thing Kushner’s team does very well is not leak.”

Elliott Abrams: “I have no reason to think this report is accurate and I actually think it’s wrong.”

Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller tweets“I remember in 1999, telling my friend and colleague Dennis Ross how impressed I was that [Ehud] Barak had offered Palestinians 85% of West Bank, thinking that we might be able to do a deal. Not sure what I was smoking. In 2018, neither Bibi nor Abbas can accept that.”

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