Will the White House finally release its peace deal?
Kobi Gideon (GPO)
The Trump administration is reportedly considering rolling out its long-delayed Mideast peace plan ahead of the March 2 elections. White House Mideast Envoy Avi Berkowitz met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz this week during Berkowitz’s first trip to Israel in his new role.
Why it matters: The political component of the peace plan was delayed twice last year after Israel failed to form a coalition government and is now heading to a third consecutive election. Former Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt told JI last month that it was “the correct decision at the time” not to release the plan “in the midst of an election process and a government formation process.”
What changed? A former U.S. official tells Jewish Insider that in order to keep the plan viable, the administration would have to release it by spring, ahead of Trump’s reelection battle. While the White House wanted to wait until the Israeli elections are over, the official explained, there seems to be no end in sight. The former official suggested that releasing it in the coming months would be as good a time as any.
In the driver’s seat: Following the Trump administration’s policy reversal on settlements and Netanyahu’s push to get U.S. support for the annexation of the West Bank, the plan rollout could benefit the embattled prime minister’s campaign, if its contents are favorable to his right-wing base.
Red light for Blue and White: According to Nimrod Novik, a fellow at Israel Policy Forum and former advisor to Shimon Peres, releasing the plan will help Netanyahu divert from his legal situation. Novik said it could also siphon votes from right-wing parties to the benefit of Likud, and has the potential of motivating a tired base to go out to vote.
View of Jerusalem: Netanyahu, speaking at the Kohelet Policy Forum conference today at the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, said, “There is a window of opportunity; it opened, but it could close.”
However, during a press conference on Wednesday, Gantz expressed his hopes that the administration would not release the plan before the elections. “This would be a blatant and real intervention in the election process,” he warned.