Israel's UN Envoy Sees Trump Mideast Deal Emerging in Early 2019

(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s United Nations envoy said he believes President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan is finalized and could be rolled out in early 2019 as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu withstands pressure to hold early elections.

“We are all waiting for the peace plan of President Trump, and we know that it’s completed,” Ambassador Danny Danon told reporters in New York on Tuesday. “Now the question is when they will submit it, as far as we know they speak with us about beginning of ’19, which is coming soon.”

The administration’s “ultimate deal” for Mideast peace, overseen by the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been underway since Trump took office but has faced considerable hurdles, including a refusal by Palestinians to take part in talks after the U.S. recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy there.

At a meeting with Netanyahu in September, Trump said he would like to release the plan in “two to three to four months, something like that.”

The timing is ripe in Israel, too. After teetering near collapse just weeks ago, the Israeli government has stepped back from the precipice of calling early elections for now. That has eased the way for the U.S. to release its plan, Danon said.

“We’ll go for elections but it will take a few months so basically today the president is able to come and present it without interfering in political debate in Israel,” Danon said. “If he will present it during the election, it will be horrendous, everybody will be attacking it.”

Israeli officials had been urging the Trump administration not to release its proposal too close to elections, afraid that a plan demanding concessions from Israel would hurt Netanyahu’s chances when hard-liners already accuse him of being too soft on Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. After moving the U.S. Embassy, Trump said in August that the Palestinians will “get something very good” in his plan because it’s now “their turn.”

Separately, Danon said Israel is backing a U.S.-drafted resolution at the UN General Assembly condemning Hamas. Danon said he views the resolution, which he expects to be brought for a vote later this week or early next week, as a positive even if it doesn’t pass.

Thursday will mark 71 years since the General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into two states. In 1977, the General Assembly called for the day to be observed as an International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

“The fact that today people discuss Hamas in the UN, it’s a win-win situation,” he said. “Usually this week people discuss the resolutions against Israel, now everybody is busy about the issue of Hamas and for us it’s very important.”

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