(JTA) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Jewish leaders that the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan could not “gain traction” and that the State Department has given “quite a bit of consideration” to what it would do if the plan fails.
“The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out,” Pompeo said during an off-the-record meeting Tuesday with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
The Washington Post reported the meeting on Sunday after obtaining a recording of Pompeo’s remarks.
“The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out,” Pompeo said.
He said contingency planning for a complete failure of the plan includes how to respond if Israel’s new government decides to annex all or parts of the West Bank.
Pompeo, who said he has seen all details of the plan, said he understands why many feel the plan will be one-sided in favour of the Israeli government. In the last year the United States has moved its embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, and slashed aid to the Palestinians.
“I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” he said. “I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit.”
He added that “everyone will find something to hate about the proposal,” which U.S. President Donald Trump has called the “Deal of the Century.”
Former U.S. Middle East peace negotiator Aaron David Miller called it “striking” that Pompeo acknowledged that the plan was tilted toward Israel.
Pompeo’s remarks came a day before Israel’s Knesset voted to dissolve itself and hold a new election.