President Donald Trump said he may unveil his long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace before a planned meeting next Tuesday in Washington with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz.
“Probably we’ll release it a little bit prior to that,” Trump told reporters traveling aboard his plane to Florida on Thursday, referring to the planned Tuesday meeting.
Vice President Mike Pence extended the invitation to meet with Trump at a meeting in Jerusalem on Thursday. Netanyahu has accepted the offer, but it’s not yet clear if Gantz will attend.
Israeli media reported that Gantz’s reluctance stemmed from a suspicion that Trump is planning to release the plan in order to assist Netanyahu ahead of March 2 elections and to distract from corruption charges the Israeli prime minister is facing.
The announcement of the Trump-Netanyahu-Gantz summit prompted questions among Washington pundits about the utility of releasing a plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace with no Palestinians present.
Trump said he had been in touch with Palestinians “briefly.”
“We’ve spoken to them briefly. But we will speak to them in a period of time,” he said. “And they have a lot of incentive to do it. I’m sure they maybe will react negatively at first but it’s actually very positive for them.”
Palestinians have boycottted peace talks since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, 2o17. Since then, Trump has cut virtually all aid to the Palestinians and has banned visits to the United States by some Palestinian leaders.