Israel's New Election Will Delay Release of Trump's Peace Plan, PA Officials Believe

Nevertheless, officials are concerned that the Trump administration will continue to take steps that pave the way for the plan without unveiling details

FILE Photo: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chairs a session of the weekly cabinet meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah, April 29, 2019.
Majdi Mohammed/AP

Senior Palestinian Authority officials are predicting that the release of U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will be delayed due to the dissolution of the Knesset and new elections in Israel scheduled for September 17.

A senior Palestinian official told Haaretz that talks held by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah on Wednesday with foreign visitors strengthened the expectation that the American administration would not release the details of its peace plan until a new Israeli government is formed.

Noting that the peace plan was deferred as a result of the Knesset election two months ago, it will also be put off as a result of the September vote, they predicted.

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On Wednesday, Saeb Erekat, the secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and chief Palestinian negotiator, cynically tweeted that the dissolution of the Knesset would overturn Trump’s peace plan. Palestinian Authority officials are concerned nevertheless that the Trump administration will continue to take steps that pave way for the plan – such as the transfer of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, the freezing of American financial assistance to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) and U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights – even if the Trump administration doesn’t present a detailed peace plan.

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An unidentified senior Trump administration official said on Thursday that the international conference scheduled for June in Bahrain, where the economic provisions of the peace plan are due to be presented, will take place as planned. When it comes to the release of the political portion of the plan, the official said it would be released “when the timing is right.”

Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made an appeal to Arab leaders gathered in Mecca to reject the White House's plan. Speaking before King Salman and other Arab leaders from the 22-nation Arab League, Abbas reiterated that the Palestinian leadership is boycotting a meeting next month in Bahrain being organized by the Trump administration.

The Palestinian Authority has officially announced that it will boycott the conference and the PA has been pressuring countries that have confirmed their participation to underline at the gathering that the solution to the conflict with Israel has to include a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders.

Abbas told the Mecca meeting that any peace plan must include a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with east Jerusalem as its capital, a call reiterated in speeches by other Arab leaders in the summit, including Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Kuwait's Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani.

The Palestinian president noted that this has been the steadfast position of Arab states, including as recently as last year at an Arab League summit held in Saudi Arabia, which King Salman renamed the Jerusalem Summit.

King Salman also told the gathering that the Palestinian cause would remain the Arab world's top priority until the establishment of "an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital," and the final communique of the summit said regional stability required the establishment of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state along 1967 borders.

On Wednesday, Jordan’s King Abdullah II conveyed the same message as Abbas during talks in Amman with the Trump administration’s senior adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt. According to a senior Jordanian official, the Jordanian monarch warned the American envoy over the consequences for the stability of the region, including those that may effect Jordan, of a collapse of the two-state solution.

On Thursday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh met with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, U.S. Congressman Elliot Engel, and told him that annexation plans being proposed in Israel would threaten a two-state solution.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.