Trump Administration Readying Israeli-Palestinian Peace Plan

Ahead of Jerusalem embassy opening, officials disclose peace plan progress

Israeli flag March Takes Place During Jerusalem Day
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• May 13, 2018 5:15 pm


The United States is in the "late phases" of finalizing its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan that will be presented to both parties for consideration, according to a senior White House official, who discussed progress on the matter ahead of a massive celebration in Israel to open the new U.S. embassy in Jerusalem.

Festivities surrounding the opening of the new U.S. embassy building in Jerusalem kicked off in "grand fashion" over the weekend and will spill into Monday afternoon when U.S, Israeli, and international diplomats gather to formally open the new embassy building, according to senior administration officials.

The U.S. presidential delegation touched down in Israel Sunday afternoon and quickly entered into a series of celebrations and bilateral meetings with Israeli officials. At a dinner organized by the Friends of Zion Museum, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner, also the president's son-in-law, were presented awards for their efforts to spearhead the embassy move.

While security remains tight amid fears of possible violence by Palestinian protestors, U.S. officials said the mood around Jerusalem is celebratory, with "people out in the streets carrying American and Israeli flags," according to one senior White House official who is in Israel for the embassy opening.

"Obviously security is a concern, but it's not an overwhelming feeling right now," the official said, speaking only on background.

As the United States takes a historic step towards recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capitol, a point vehemently protested by Palestinian leaders, the senior administration official told the Free Beacon that this new reality is not being viewed as an impediment to peace.

The United States is in the "late phase," in fact, of finalizing its peace plan that will be presented to both sides in the coming months.

The plan has been in the works for at least the past year, according to Trump administration officials, and will be presented "when the time is right."

"We've been working hard and want to give the plan the best chance for success," a senior administration official told the Free Beacon. "We want to get a lasting deal that is livable for both parties."

Details of the plan are being kept tightly under wraps, but it is expected a public roll out of the peace plan will arrive within the next month to two months, sources said.

"We're not going to preview elements of the plan because no one is going to like everything in it—so anything you reveal is going to make someone angry because it will not be in context," the administration official said, explaining that the Trump administration is being extremely sensitive to both sides.

However, it has become clear since Trump announced the embassy move that the United States is standing firmly behind a new reality—that Jerusalem is in fact Israel's capital—a declaration that has reversed longstanding U.S. policy on the matter, particularly that of the Obama administration, which routinely declined to state that Jerusalem is part of Israel proper.

The embassy opening "makes clear what our position is and our priorities and a recognition of reality," the senior White House official said. "It is our hope that recognition for the Palestinians that Israel isn't going away is going to be clarifying for them."

This does not mean the United States is taking a firm position on negotiating terms known as final-status, which accounts for the borders of various territories that would be agreed upon by the Israelis and Palestinians.

It "doesn't mean we're wandering with maps drawing other things," the official said. "We are moving into a new phase and they [the Palestinians] have a big opportunity with this new president, who's quite supportive of them."

The Trump administration is also pushing other allies to relocate their embassies, a policy that is being met with good reception despite media reports indicating otherwise, multiple sources confirmed.

Those attending the embassy opening represent a broad swath of Democrats and Republicans, according to the Trump administration.

It's a very bipartisan crowd and "not just a bunch of Republicans," the administration official confirmed.

Former Sen. Joe Lieberman and Obama-era ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro are both in attendance, as well as many other Democrats.

It "really speaks to how this is a bipartisan consensus across the government" supporting the embassy move to Jerusalem. "This is something that Congress proposed more than 20 years ago and there's a strong sense this is the will of the American people and the Israeli people," the official said.

The embassy move also has bolstered the alliance between the United States and Israel, which is focusing in the short term on aiding Israel's defense forces amid growing and ongoing threats by terrorist proxy groups backed by Iran.

"The threats aren't going to go away. This alliance is moving into a new phase of cooperation," which will see the United States "mindful of the threats to Israel's northern border" by Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terror group.

Hamas-led protestors also have been fomenting clashes along Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, a matter the United States is deferring to Israeli security authorities on.

As to the security situation, "it really doesn't feel any different than being in Jerusalem any other time," the administration official told the Free Beacon. "Anytime there's a high profile event and delegation like this it pays to be concerned and keep an eye on things. I think tomorrow will be continued very strong coordinated security between the U.S. and Israel and we're hoping all that hard work pays off. This should not be a cause for violence, there should be a cause for celebration."

One source who routinely advises the White House on Middle East issues told the Free Beacon that objections to the embassy move by some European countries have fallen flat, only reinforcing the the widespread international support for the move.

"When the president announced he was moving the embassy the swamp said he was making a huge mistake and there would be endless global violence and American isolation," the source said, referring to efforts by former Obama administration officials and liberal talking heads to oppose the move in the press. "Instead the European Union can't even mount a symbolic condemnation because there are too many countries looking to follow our leadership."

Published under: Israel, Trump Administration