Trump to Release Middle East Peace Plan Before Israeli Leaders Visit

President Donald Trump said Thursday he likely would make public his administration’s long-delayed plan for peace in the Middle East, under development since 2017, before a visit to Washington next week by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival, Benny Gantz, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The two Israeli political leaders accepted a U.S. invitation to discuss the peace plan during a visit to Jerusalem by Vice President Mike Pence. Trump said he also has spoken briefly to the Palestinians and said U.S. officials would speak further to them.

Trump has taken a series of steps during his administration that are considered favorable to the Israelis, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, slashing bilateral assistance to the Palestinians and backing Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

“I’m sure they [Palestinians] maybe will react negatively at first but it’s actually very positive for them,” Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Florida on Thursday.

Trump and others on his team have committed to time frames to release the plan before, only later to back away from them. Palestinian officials had cut off all contact with the Trump administration in late 2017, when Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, the Journal noted.

The White House is considering making its peace plan public before Israel’s March vote to try to get ahead of the U.S. election season and as political support in Israel grows for the release of the political blueprint.

In Jerusalem, Pence said Netanyahu and Gantz accepted President Trump’s invitation. “We very much look forward to [welcoming] you to our nation’s capital to continue discussions about a broad range of issues of mutual concerns between the United States and Israel but also about the prospect of peace,” Pence said.

Netanyahu said he suggested including Gantz “because I think it’s important we do not lose this historic opportunity with such friends in the White House.”

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