US President Trump’s proposal for a “deal of the century” to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict promises practical improvements in the lives of Palestinians but is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate، fully sovereign Palestinian state، according to people familiar with the main elements of the effort.
The White House is expected to roll out its long-anticipated peace package later this spring or by early summer، after more than two years of effort by Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner. Officials have kept details of the plan secret، but comments from Kushner and other U.S. officials suggest that it does away with statehood as the starting premise of peace efforts as it has been over the past two decades.
The plan would represent Trump’s effort to put his stamp on diplomacy in a conflict that has festered since 1948، and it is likely to focus heavily on Israeli security concerns. Trump has told friends he wants to upend traditional assumptions about how to resolve the conflict، but unlike in his unorthodox personal diplomacy with North Korea، Trump has largely outsourced the Middle East peace effort to his son-in-law.
Most analysts give Kushner little chance of success where decades of U.S.-backed efforts have failed. His prospects are worsened by the perception among European and some Arab leaders that Trump has shown his cards through a series of actions favorable to Israel.
Arab officials familiar with Kushner’s sales pitches said he has offered no specifics but suggested that the plan turned on economic opportunities for Palestinians and an enshrining of Israeli control of disputed territory.
Kushner and other U.S. officials have linked peace and economic development to Arab recognition of Israel and acceptance of a version of the status quo on Palestinian “autonomy،” as opposed to “sovereignty،” people who have spoken with the Kushner team said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise on the eve of his reelection last week to annex some Jewish settlements in the West Bank added to the perception among diplomats and analysts that the Trump administration will greenlight broad Israeli control over disputed land. “What we’ve tried to do is figure out what is a realistic and what is a fair solution to the issues here in 2019 that can enable people to live better lives،” Kushner said in a rare interview with Sky News Arabia as he sought Arab support on a visit to the region in February.
“We believe we have a plan that is fair، realistic and implementable that will enable people to live better lives،” a senior White House official said Friday. “We looked at past efforts and solicited ideas from both sides and partners in the region with the recognition that what has been tried in the past has not worked. Thus، we have taken an unconventional approach founded on not hiding from reality، but instead speaking truth.”
Netanyahu has promised to consider the plan، which Trump has said will ask concessions of both sides. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Americans are biased، but a chief adviser said last week that the Palestinians will not reject the Trump plan out of hand.