Top Trump Official Rejects Claims Releasing Peace Plan Before Israel Election Is 'Interference'

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Senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, talks with national security adviser Robert O'Brien at the White House in Washington, November 13, 2019.
Senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, talks with national security adviser Robert O'Brien at the White House in Washington, November 13, 2019.Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump's national security adviser, Robert O'Brien told Axios that releasing the Mideast peace plan before Israel's March 2 general election wouldn't harm Israel's electoral process.

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.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 56

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The U.S. security adviser, however, added in an interview published Monday that the Trump administration has "no illusion" that releasing the long-awaited plan "will be an easy process."  

O'Brien's remarks come after Benny Gantz, Netanyahu's chief rival, said on Wednesday that the publication of the plan before the election would constitute interference in Israel's political process.

Gantz, head of the Kahol Lavan party, was asked during a party meeting in Jerusalem about his meeting Tuesday with Avi Berkowitz, assistant to Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"I am happy about these meetings and about the important ties with the U.S.," Gantz replied, but added: "I can assume that on such an important matter the Americans would be careful and not publish it before the election, because that would be an outright interference in the State of Israel's election process."

Asked to address Gantz's remarks, O'Brien said: "We're not focused on the Israeli election calendar or when the Palestinians end up having an election."

According to Axios, O'Brien said that the U.S. administration doesn't expect the Israeli leadership to end the ongoing political deadlock before the release of the plan.

"I don't think it necessarily depends on the elections. They will have had three elections in a row, we'll have to see. … The president is looking for a solution on the Israeli-Palestinian front that is durable, is long-lasting, and we're not timing anything we do based on the domestic politics, either the Palestinians or the Israelis."

Palestinian leadership has rejected Trump's Mideast plan. In 2019 Trump cut U.S. aid to the Palestinians as “a result of decisions taken by the Palestinian leadership."

Jordan’s King Abdullah II told France 24 in an interview published Monday he’s “not sure” when the plan would be released, “but we keep hearing that the plan will be presented sometime soon.”

“Our job then is to look at the glass half-full,” he said. “How do we build on the plan and how do we build it in such a way we bring the Israelis and Palestinians together. And so the problem is, it’s difficult for us to make decisions on the plan when we don’t really know what it is.” 

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