US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday that the Trump administration will be renewing peace efforts in Israel and Palestine following the upcoming Israeli elections in April.
During a speech given via satellite at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, did not specify the measures the US would be taking, but said it “won’t be a US-driven process.”
“Ultimately, the Israelis and the Palestinians will have to come to an agreement. But we think that the foundations that we have laid and the work that we’ll do immediately following the Israeli elections will set conditions where we can have a constructive conversation,” Pompeo said.
“It seems to me that we’re at a point in time where there are ways that we can resolve the primary differences and encourage those two places, the Israelis and the Palestinians, to come together to resolve their differences and get a solution there that has bedeviled the world for an awfully long time,” he said.
Pompeo went on to say that “we’ve begun to share elements of this across the region,” and that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, and special representative Jason Greenblatt had been leading the development of the peace plan.
The day before Pompeo’s announcement at the forum, Greenblatt and senior PLO official Dr. Hanan Ashrawi were embroiled in a Twitter battle after Ashrawi said the US administration had “zero credibility.”
Greenblatt responded, saying “you may dislike our policies & decisions, but to say we have ‘zero credibility’ is simply not factual. @POTUS has kept his commitments, such as recognizing #Jerusalem as the capital of #Israel & moving our Embassy to #Jerusalem.”
Last week, Greenblatt took to Twitter to deny reports by Israel’s Channel 13 news report that claimed Trump’s plan proposes a Palestinian state in 85-90 percent of the West Bank, with the sovereign capital of Palestine located in “most of the Arab neighborhoods” of East Jerusalem.
According to the Channel 13 report, the Trump administration is expected to propose various land swaps, in which Israel would see its sovereignty extended to portion of the West Bank, in exchange for Palestinian-majority portions of Israeli territory.
Major settlement blocs would also reportedly be annexed to Israel, while smaller “isolated” –which are tend to be more nationalistic and violent towards Palestinians — would not be forcibly evacuated, but would also not be allowed to expand.
The report, citing “a senior American official” in the Trump administration, said the so-called “deal of the century” proposes that Jerusalem be divided, with Israel maintaining sovereignty in West Jerusalem, parts of East Jerusalem and the “holy basin,” including the Old City and its immediate environs.
It reportedly stipulated that the “holy basin,” home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, Church of Holy Sepulchre, and other holy sites, would be “jointly run” by Israel, Palestine, Jordan and “possibly other countries.”
“While I respect @BarakRavid, his report on Israel’s Ch. 13 is not accurate. Speculation about the content of the plan is not helpful. Very few people on the planet know what is in it… for now…,” Greenblatt said on Twitter on January 17th.
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported on Monday that the Trump administration, specifically Kushner, is hoping to roll out plans for an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement before the launch of the US 2020 presidential campaign.
“They expect the Israelis to come to the table swiftly, and hope the Palestinians will see merit in the plan with regional encouragement – but understand that certain elements are likely to aggravate both sides,” the Israeli news website said, citing anonymous senior US officials.
Trump has touted his “deal of the century” for years now, ever since he began campaigning for president.
While the exact details of the plan have remained elusive, save a few leaks and speculation from Israeli and international media, the Trump administration has slowly been ticking off most of the Israeli right’s wishlist, while pulling essential funding for agencies like UNRWA, USAID, and PA government funding in efforts to force the Palestinians to the negotiating table.
Given the Trump administration’s tactics in occupied Palestinian territory over the past year, which Palestinian officials have called “political blackmail,” many Palestinians anticipate the US plan will attempt to erase any Palestinian claims to Jerusalem, and force them to once again compromise their rights for the sake of Israel and the settlers.