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Tuesday, 21 March 2023
U.S. will not release Middle East peace plan before Israeli election
The United States will not release the long-delayed political portion of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan before Israel’s elections, White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said on Wednesday.

The move, announced in a tweet by Greenblatt, appeared to be aimed at not interfering with September elections in which the leadership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of U.S. President Donald Trump, is at stake.

“We have decided that we will not be releasing the peace vision (or parts of it) prior to the Israeli election,” Greenblatt said on Twitter.

Trump on Monday had said the plan might be revealed before the Israeli election.

The plan is aimed at resolving some of the thorniest issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but little is known about its contents.

Trump’s Middle East team, including his senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, had wanted to roll out the plan during the summer but Netanyahu’s failure to put together a governing coalition after April elections prompted a delay.

Netanyahu now faces a fresh vote on Sept. 17 and, if successful, will try again to form a coalition.

Unveiling a peace plan before Sept. 17 could have complicated a tight race in which Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud party and its strongest rival - Blue and White, led by former armed forces chief Benny Gantz - are running neck and neck in the polls.

Netanyahu has praised Trump policy moves such as the transfer of the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and its annexation of the occupied Golan Heights.

But any perceived concessions towards the Palestinians in the peace plan in the run-up to a ballot only three weeks away could have harmed Netanyahu’s chances of remaining in office.

Netanyahu has campaigned for votes partly by highlighting his close relationship with Trump, whom he has featured on election billboards.

The White House in June announced the economic piece of the Trump peace plan and sought support for it at a conference of global finance ministers in Bahrain.

It proposes a $50 billion investment plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies, and fund a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

Gulf leaders, however, want to see details of the political plan before signing on to the economic plan.