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Trump says administration’s Middle East plan to be unveiled Tuesday

Jan 27, 2020, 10:39 AM
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FILE: President Donald Trump announced his administration's Middle East plans will be shared this week. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

(CNN) — President Donald Trump plans to announce the administration’s Middle East plan Tuesday at the White House alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“So tomorrow at 12 o’clock, we’ll be announcing a plan. And it’s a very big plan, it will be a suggestion between Israel and the Palestinians, it’s the closest it’s ever come and we’ll see what happens. We have the support of the prime minister, we have the support of the other parties, and we think we will ultimately have the support of the Palestinians, but we’re going to see,” Trump told reporters Monday.

Trump was also asked whether he had spoken to the Palestinians about the plan but wouldn’t answer, saying: “We will be reporting on that tomorrow. It’s something they should want. They probably won’t want it initially, but 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,” Trump said.

“People have been working on this for many, many years. I think we’re relatively close but we have to get other people to agree with it also. I will say many of the Arab nations have agreed to it. They like it,” Trump said.

The unveiling of the White House’s Middle East plan, which is being spearheaded by Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been delayed amid the months-long period of turmoil in Israeli politics, with the country due to hold an unprecedented third national election in less than a year in March.

Netanyahu and his opponent, Blue and White party Chairman Benny Gantz, are both visiting the White House Monday.

The visit could serve as a political and personal lifeline to Netanyahu, who is facing a difficult electoral battle in March, as well as seeking immunity from prosecution in the face of looming indictments for bribery and fraud and breach of trust. He denies any wrongdoing.

The details of the plan are expected to largely benefit Netanyahu, given the White House track record for delivering groundbreaking decisions that tilt decisively in Israel’s favor and ignore Palestinian concerns.

Speaking on Air Force One about the deal last week, Trump said the administration had spoken to the Palestinians “briefly.”

“We’ve spoken to them briefly, but we will speak to them in a period of time,” he 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 for them.”

The Tuesday announcement will take place on the same day the Israeli parliament is to decide whether to start debating Netanyahu’s request for immunity from prosecution, and could serve as a powerful distraction.

The Trump administration released the economic portion of its peace plan during a conference with mainly regional officials in Bahrain last June, but it has yet to unveil the political portion, which will address the most intractable issues — like the matter of Palestinian statehood, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees — to resolving the conflict.

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Trump says administration’s Middle East plan to be unveiled Tuesday