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‘Great’ Middle East peace plan likely rolling out soon, says President Trump


U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday that he’ll likely release his long-awaited Mideast peace plan before his meeting early next week at the White House with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main political rival Benny Gantz.

“It’s a great plan. It’s a plan that really would work,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One en route to a Republican Party meeting in Florida.

The plan, which would be rolled out as Trump’s Senate impeachment trial continues on Capitol Hill, is expected to be pro-Israel, which would please U.S. evangelical and Jewish voters. It also comes as Netanyahu seeks immunity from Israeli lawmakers from charges stemming from corruption investigations.

Trump said he was surprised that both Netanyahu and Gantz were willing to take a break from campaigning for the March 2 elections to join him Tuesday in Washington.

“They both would like to do the deal. They want to see peace,” Trump said. “Look, Israel wants peace, Palestinians want peace. They all want peace. Not everyone wants to say it.”

He said his administration has talked briefly to the Palestinians, who have rejected the administration’s peace plan before it even comes out.

“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” Trump said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first, but it’s actually very positive to them.”

“We took away their money,” Trump added. “That’s a lot of money for them.”

The U.S. stopped funding the UN agency that helps Palestinian refugees, which slashed hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza and cut funding to hospitals in Jerusalem that serve Palestinians. Trump also closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington, saying the Palestinians refused to engage in peace talks with Israel.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the invitation for Netanyahu and Gantz to visit during a meeting with the prime minister in Jerusalem after addressing an international forum Thursday on the Holocaust. He said that at Netanyahu’s request, the invitation was also issued to Gantz.

Asked when he would release the plan, which has been shepherded by the president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, Trump said it would be rolled out “sometime prior” to his meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz. “Probably we’ll release it a little bit prior to that.”

The plan is expected to strongly favor Israel, and is unlikely to garner any international support if it is seen as undermining the prospect of a two-state solution.


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