WASHINGTONPresident
Trumps
Middle East peace plan, to be formally unveiled Tuesday, is a detailed blueprint of more than 50 pages that outlines his administrations ideas about how to resolve core issues on borders, security and Jerusalem that have bedeviled negotiators for decades. Although the administration has steadfastly declined to publicly discuss specific elements, people briefed on the contents described a plan that heavily tilts toward the Israeli position on key issues.The plan, they say, envisions Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, including areas Palestinians claim as the capital of a future independent state. The Palestinians would have control over some neighborhoods on outer parts of East Jerusalem. There would be land swaps between areas controlled by the Israelis and Palestinians. In the end, the Palestinians might control 70% to 80% of the West Bank. That would fall short of Palestinian demands, but the plan isnt expected to formally rule out a Palestinian state.
Officials have said Israelis and Palestinians wont be forced to leave their homes as Israel expands its borders. Unlike past efforts, the Trump administration isnt expected to seek compromises that would allow some Palestinians to return to land they or their families left after Israels creation or receive compensation for it.
The White House has invited Arab and European diplomats to the Tuesday rollout featuring Mr. Trump and Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr. Netanyahu and his main Israeli political rival,
Benny Gantz,
visited the White House on Monday.
Palestinian Authority President
Mahmoud Abbass
spokesperson called Monday for Arab ambassadors to boycott the event. The Trump administration has lined up tentative support from at least some Arab states, people familiar with the matter say.
The White House hasnt publicly mapped out the next steps for discussions or if Mr. Trump plans to dispatch envoys to the region for talks.
Peace in the Middle East has been long sought, for many, many, many years and decades and centuries, Mr. Trump said, speaking alongside Mr. Netanyahu at the White House on Monday. This is an opportunity, well see what happens. Whatever it is, it is.
Aaron David Miller,
a former adviser to Democratic and Republican secretaries of state, predicted the plan would give Israel most of what it wants and that the Trump administrations Arab allies, which are concerned about Iran and want Washingtons support, will be reluctant to openly oppose it.
Israelis will say yes or yes, but, Mr. Miller said. Key Arab states will probably say maybe in order to stay on the right side of
Donald Trump.
Palestinians will say hell no.
Politically, the timing of the plans release will help Mr. Netanyahu in a tough re-election battle ahead of an unprecedented third vote in March, analysts say. The White House announcement Tuesday will come on the day Israels parliament begins deliberations on whether to grant Mr. Netanyahu immunity from prosecution over corruption charges.
The plan also holds potential benefits for Mr. Trump amid the Senate impeachment trial. Mr. Trumps ardent support for Israel will appeal to the U.S. evangelical movement and some elements of the American Jewish community.
Mr. Gantz backed the plan after a meeting with Mr. Trump and pledged to begin implementing it if he is elected and able to form a government after the March elections. Current polls indicate that neither Mr. Gantz nor Mr. Netanyahu will be able to form a majority coalition after the vote.
A broader question is whether veering from the diplomatic architecture that long has guided U.S. Mideast policy will provide fresh ideas that come as Gulf Arab leaders have found common cause with Israel over Iranor aggravate Israeli-Palestinian tensions.
It is obviously one-sided, said
Martin Indyk,
who served as a special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2013 and 2014 driven by then-Secretary of State
John Kerry.
It is blatant interference in the Israeli elections masquerading as a peace plan.
If the plan fails, supporters and critics say, it could end up paving the way for unilateral Israeli steps to annex parts of the West Bank, which could inflame Palestinian sentiment and signal the end of diplomacy.
This plan is to protect Trump from isolation and Netanyahu from jail. Its not a peace plan for the Middle East, but rather a self-security plan, said Palestinian Authority Prime Minister
Muhammad Shtayyeh
in a cabinet meeting in Ramallah on Sunday.
Several Israeli settlement leaders also came to Washington to join the discussions, including Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy for the Yesha Council, which represents the 450,000 Jewish Israeli residents of the West Bank.
We have high expectations, Mr. Revivi said. I am aware that just like the prime minister, the president [Trump] is also in an election year and the president needs to deliver to his hard-core supporters in the U.S.
Mr. Trump took an unorthodox approach to peacemaking from the beginning, tapping his son-in-law and senior adviser
Jared Kushner
to spearhead the effort shortly after his election. He also added
David Friedman,
a former bankruptcy attorney and settlement supporter, and
Jason Greenblatt,
formerly of the Trump Organization.
Some Palestinians have said the fact that all three are observant Jews added to perceptions that the plan would be one-sided. The White House has said they worked hard to create a blueprint they think is even handed.
Dennis Ross,
who worked on Middle East issues for Republican and Democratic administrations, said the plans prospects will depend heavily on reactions of Arab leaders. If there are a number of Arab leaders who will say the plan is serious, the plan will have legs regardless of the almost certain Palestinian initial rejection, Mr. Ross said.
Some analysts say that such a rebuff by the Palestinians might play into the hands of Israeli officials who want to move quickly to annex much of the West Bank. According to their assessment, supporters of annexation would seize on that rejection to argue that diplomacy has reached a dead end.
Mr. Netanyahu is also seeking the support of right-wing voters to form a government after the March vote, which could prompt him to support annexation of some kind.
The [Trump] administration is trying to square a circle between avoiding rejection of the Arab states and at the same time trying to have a plan that is acceptable to the Israeli right, and squaring that circle is not always easy, said
David Makovsky
of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
—Dov Lieber in Tel Avivand Alex Leary in Washington contributed to this article.
Write to Felicia Schwartz at Felicia.Schwartz@wsj.com and Michael R. Gordon at michael.gordon@wsj.com
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