(JTA) – U.S. President Donald Trump and his advisers have started drafting an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, officials told The New York Times.
In the article published Saturday, officials said they expect to address issues that have long frustrated negotiators, such as the status of Jerusalem and West Bank settlements. The framework could “take until early next year to finalize” and will not impose a timeline for negotiations, officials said.
“We have spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and key regional leaders over the past few months to help reach an enduring peace deal,” Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt told The Times. “We are not going to put an artificial timeline on the development or presentation of any specific ideas and will also never impose a deal. Our goal is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to improve the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and security across the region.”
Greenblatt, Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser Jared Kushner, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman are the “core” team drafting the plan, according to The Times. They reportedly are consulting with State Department officials and the U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, Donald Blome.
Analysts told The Times that they expect the plan would have to be based on the two-state solution, which envisions a Palestinian state alongside Israel and has been central to peacemaking efforts for years. Some said they believe Trump’s plan may include confidence-building measures to get the process moving.
For Israel, those could include limiting settlement construction to current blocs without taking new land, recommitting to a two-state solution and redesignating a small part of the West Bank to give Palestinians more control. The Palestinians could be asked to resume full security cooperation with Israel, hold off seeking further international recognition and end payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks.
Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, could try to sweeten the deal by making commitments like overflights by Israeli passenger planes, visas for businesspeople and telecommunications links, The Times report suggested.
But a White House official quoted in the report dismissed such specifics as “mere speculation.”
Trump has publicly committed to trying to forge the “ultimate deal” between Israel and the Palestinians, and Greenblatt and Kushner have made numerous trips to Israel and the Middle East. The president has stepped back from previous administrations’ support for a two-state solution, saying the parties would have to decide the outcome of a negotiated settlement. But senior officials have said the White House remains committed to the goal of a Palestinian state.