Trump Envoy to Visit Israel, Discuss Middle East Peace Plan After Months of Standstill

Although Avi Berkowitz's visit is not expected to lead to a major breakthrough, it signals that the White House hasn't completely abandoned the initiative

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Washington
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Avi Berkowitz, right, with Jared Kushner at the TIME 100 Summit in New York City, April 23, 2019.
Avi Berkowitz, right, with Jared Kushner at the TIME 100 Summit in New York City, April 23, 2019. Credit: Craig Barritt/Getty Images for TIME
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Washington

WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump's special assistant Avi Berkowitz, who is leading the Middle East peace plan, will arrive in Israel next week, signaling the White House hasn’t fully given up on promoting the initiative.

The peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians has been in deep freeze since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government after Israel's April 9 election.

Berkowitz, a close aide to Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, has been working on the plan since Jason Greenblatt left his post as the president's special envoy to the Middle East in September 2019. Berkowitz joined Kushner on his last visit to Israel in October.

During his stay in Israel, Berkowitz is expected to meet with government officials as well as with U.S. Ambassador David Friedman.

The main purpose Berkowitz's visit is to gather information about Israel's political situation, ahead of the country's third election within a year. The visit isn't likely to lead to a major breakthrough in the peace plan.

The Trump administration was preparing to release the peace plan in the spring of 2019, but Netanyahu's two consecutive failures to form a government, which have led to another election on March 2, caused an unexpected delay.

The economic chapter of the plan was released in June 2019, but the political, diplomatic and security components have yet to be published, which could take months.

Kushner, who is the main person within the administration tasked with this project, has meanwhile shifted priorities towards building the U.S.-Mexico wall and Trump's re-election campaign. An exact date for the release of the plan hasn't been announced yet, but the White house hasn't ruled out it could be published in 2020.

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