Haley: Trump Mideast Peace Plan Is Nearly Finished

CHICAGO (The Washington Post) -

The Trump administration is nearly finished drafting its Mideast peace proposal and will release it soon, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Thursday.

“I think they’re finishing it up,” Haley said during a question-and-answer session at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics. Ambassador Haley added that U.S. negotiators Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt “are still going back and forth,” and she gave no more specific timeline.

“They’re coming up with a plan. It won’t be loved by either side and it won’t be hated by either side.”

Ambassador Haley’s remark appeared to confirm that the administration still plans to move soon to roll out a plan that has been sidelined and in doubt since President Donald Trump broke decades of U.S. precedent by declaring Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel.

The administration has not said exactly when it planned to reveal its ideas for negotiations and an eventual settlement, but had been widely expected to do so early this year. Palestinian leaders have said the Jerusalem decision means the United States can no longer be an honest broker.

Institute Director David Axelrod, a former senior adviser to former president Barack Obama, pressed Haley on whether the United States would propose an independent Palestinian state, which had been U.S. policy for more than two decades prior to Trump’s election.

“It’s for them to decide,” Ambassador Haley said of Israel and the Palestinians. She added that “it is hard for me to see how they would want” a single state, and added that she thinks “they are pushing toward a two-state” outcome.

Ms. Haley, a former South Carolina governor and a rare minority member in the Trump administration, was asked how she squares her parents’ immigrant experience with Trump’s attempts to curb both illegal and legal immigration.

“My parents would be the first to tell you they came to this country legally,” Ambassador Haley said of her parents’ immigration from India. “They did it the right way.”

Before taking the U.N. job, the anbassador was best known nationally for leading the effort to remove the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse after the 2015 massacre of worshipers at a historic African-American church in Charleston. She did not back Trump during the Republican presidential primary, in which South Carolina is an early-season prize.

In office, Ambassador Haley has maintained a higher profile within the administration than her title might dictate. She advises Trump directly, and is among the most hawkish voices on issues including Iran and Israel, sometimes putting her at odds with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

In her prepared remarks, the ambassador said U.S.-led sanctions applied by the United Nations have squeezed North Korea and forced a change in its behavior even if the nuclear and ballistic missile programs continue. “The regime has less and less money to spend on its ballistic missile tests, and less capacity to threaten other countries with those tests,” Haley said. “It is this fact, more than anything else, that prompted the Kim regime to reach out to South Korea and do public relations damage control at the Olympics.”