Trump Administration To Release Mideast Peace Plan
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Today, we learn what the president says peace in the Middle East could look like. He describes a peace proposal worked out between Israelis and the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, among others. Palestinians were not involved, although the president contends they should like it. Reporter Naomi Zeveloff is joining us now from Tel Aviv. Welcome back to the program.
NAOMI ZEVELOFF: Thank you.
INSKEEP: What's this plan address?
ZEVELOFF: Well, the plan hasn't been officially released yet, so we can't say what's in it for sure, but the issues are pretty clear. What's the status of East Jerusalem? Is there an end to the occupation in the West Bank and an independent state proposed for the Palestinians? What's going to happen to Israel's West Bank settlements? And the expectations in the past were that Israel would get security and the Palestinians would get an end to the occupation and that this process would eventually lead to an independent Palestinian state. But the Trump administration has hinted that it's no longer bound to that two-state idea.
INSKEEP: Oh, which is an evolution that Prime Minister Netanyahu has made. He did say at one time he favored a two-state solution but is now talking more in terms of - I don't know - 1 1/2 states. How would you say it?
ZEVELOFF: Right. He's, you know, described something less than a state for the Palestinians, potentially as a state minus. But, of course, the Palestinians could never accept that. They won't accept that. And what would that state potentially even look like?
INSKEEP: So Netanyahu and President Trump are in this position of presenting a peace plan that doesn't involve the Palestinians and that it's hard to see if they would accept the terms. And it also comes at an odd moment for the prime minister because he's now today been formally indicted on corruption charges. What's that mean?
ZEVELOFF: So just to be clear, this formal indictment is just the next step in the legal process here in Israel. Israel's attorney general officially submitted the indictments to a Jerusalem court, which means that the case is now going to be referred to trial. And Netanyahu actually was the one who orchestrated this quite dramatically this morning. He set it into motion. He had requested immunity from Parliament, and then he withdrew the request today just hours before the proceedings were supposed to begin. He said that he didn't want his opponents to use the immunity proceedings to distract from the historic nature of this deal he's going to talk about today. And in a way, he's trying to make the legal process look somewhat petty compared to what he's going to be undertaking today with Trump.
INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about the timing of this. People here naturally question whether President Trump is interested in this announcement now because he is on trial in the Senate, and this is a different bit of news that he can put out there. Is there some similar calculation potentially for Netanyahu at home?
ZEVELOFF: Certainly there is, and Trump knows that Netanyahu is in trouble politically, not only because of the legal problems but also because he hasn't succeeded in forming a government in the last two elections, and now Israel is heading to a third. So the timing, in a way, allows Netanyahu to fall back on the way that he likes to promote himself in Israel and especially with his base, which is as a statesman who's capable of dealing with the most important governments of the world and making deals with them.
INSKEEP: Although not necessarily dealing in a practical way with Palestinian negotiators. What are they saying about this?
ZEVELOFF: Well, they rejected it ahead of time because they say they have zero trust for this administration after Trump recognized Israel's claim to Jerusalem as its capital and moved the embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2018. Palestinians, of course, also want part of Jerusalem for their capital.
INSKEEP: That's Naomi Zeveloff in Tel Aviv. Thanks for the update.
ZEVELOFF: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.