Intel: How Democratic lawmakers are trying to get ahead of Trump’s Mideast peace plan

al-monitor US President Donald Trump listens as he welcomes Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House in Washington, US, Jan. 27, 2020.  Photo by REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque.

Jan 27, 2020

As President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White opposition leader Benny Gantz to discuss the imminent release of his Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, pro-Israel Democrats signified reservations about the White House’s long-awaited proposal.

“A two-state solution cannot be born on the backs of unilateral actions from either side,” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Senate Foreign Relations Committee top Democrat Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said in a statement. “Unilateral actions do not contribute to a sustainable peace and would not serve US interests. Unilateral steps would make it harder to come back to the negotiating table and could set unrealistic and unachievable demands.”

The top Democrat on the House Middle East panel, Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Fla., also urged a return to “direct negotiations” between the Israelis and Palestinians, warning against “unilateral action by either party that could damage the prospect for peace.” Deutch noted that he’s been trying to get the White House to brief him on the closely held plan for two years.

Why it matters: While Democrats are calling for a return to direct negotiations between the two parties, the Palestinians have boycotted negotiations with the Trump administration since the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2017.

Netanyahu praised the plan as “an opportunity” after the meeting, but Trump acknowledged that it does not currently have buy-in from the Palestinians.

“They probably won’t want it initially,” said Trump. “I think in the end they will. I think in the end they’re going to want it. It’s very good for them. In fact, it’s overly good to them.”

The president also noted that “many of the Arab nations have agreed to it.” Bahrain hosted a US summit in July to unveil a $50 billion economic component of the plan — a summit that the Palestinians also boycotted as it did not include a political solution.

What’s next: Trump is set to unveil the peace plan alongside Netanyahu on Tuesday. The Jerusalem Post reports that the plan is expected to include the annexation of all Israeli settlements in the West Bank, along with most of the Jordan Valley, and a demilitarized Palestinian state in the rest of the occupied territory. The Palestinians have threatened to withdraw from key provisions of the 1995 Oslo Accord.

Know more: Trump is unveiling his plan as his rival guests — Netanyahu and Gantz — gear up for the third round of Israeli elections in less than a year. Yossi Beilin — a former Israeli Cabinet official — has thoughts on the state of Israeli democracy.

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