US President Donald Trump’s top diplomats are setting the stage for the launch of his peace plan – with or without participation from the Palestinian Authority, senior administration officials told The Jerusalem Post this week.
The Middle East peace team, led by Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, is still completing the economic portion of its plan now 19 months in the making. It is also engaging interested parties outside of government for buy-in and settling in new staff that will manage the public rollout.
“We are in the ‘pre-launch’ phase of the plan and still need to put the finishing touches on it, although that can happen very quickly,” a senior administration official said. “And, in an ideal world, we want to put forth a plan at a time that gives it the best chances of achieving success.”
But the peace team is acknowledging that serendipity might never strike, and that it could ultimately present the president with a recommendation to proceed without Palestinian cooperation as months continue to pass without rapprochement. Indeed, relations between Ramallah and Washington have deteriorated in recent weeks.
As Trump aides lay the groundwork for launch, the White House has simultaneously hit the PA with several punitive measures, including the closure of PLO offices in Washington and aid cuts to the West Bank and Gaza, to east Jerusalem hospitals, and to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees known as UNRWA.
Trump suggested last week that this series of cuts were part of a calculated plan to pressure the PA to come to the table ahead of the launch.
“I’d say, you’ll get money, but we’re not paying you until we make a deal. If we don’t make a deal, we’re not paying,” Trump told Jewish leaders in a Rosh Hashanah phone call. Ramallah cut off contact with the White House last December after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv five months later.