US not delaying peace plan over Israeli government turmoil, ambassador to Israel says


(JTA) — The U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, denied reports that the Trump administration is delaying the rollout of its peace plan due to the recent upheaval in Israel’s government.

Friedman also called reports about a high-level meeting last week that included President Donald Trump to discuss the timing of the peace plan “wildly inaccurate” in a statement released Monday that was posted to the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s website.

Those in attendance at last week’s Oval Office meeting with Trump included Friedman, Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt — the administration’s team assembling the peace plan — as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Adviser John Bolton, according to the statement. Friedman called it a “very productive meeting.”

“I would like to reaffirm that the United States remains committed to sharing its vision for peace with Israel, the Palestinians and other regional and international stakeholders at the appropriate time,” Friedman said in the statement.

“Our timing, our strategy and our messaging is and will be entirely our own. We intend to release the President’s vision when the Administration concludes that we have maximized its potential for acceptance, execution and implementation.”

U.S. officials are said to be concerned about releasing a peace plan during an election season in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government coalition currently has a narrow one-seat majority following the defection of the Yisrael Beiteinu party led by Avigdor Liberman, who stepped down as defense minister over a cease-fire with Palestinian terrorist groups firing rockets into southern Israel.

Friedman said he, Kushner and Greenblatt “are of one mind in terms of how best to proceed.”

“Those anonymous ‘experts’ who purport to speak for the Administration on this issue are ill informed and mistaken,” he said.

The Trump administration has never given a hard date for the announcement of the peace plan, though Trump said earlier this year that he hoped to release it early next year. The Palestinians have already said they would reject the plan, though no details about it have been made publicly available.

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