The delay in the release of the White House peace plan for the Middle East has generated speculation about the cause, and whether there is friction over it among President Donald Trump’s senior advisers.
Israeli officials were quoted by The Jerusalem Post on Thursday as saying that there is disagreement in the White House as to the optimal time to unveil the plan, but that senior Trump administration officials denied this and insisted that the Mideast team is working together.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman dismissed a report that he has lobbied for a year’s delay and denied alleged friction. Speaking of his relationship with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt — the two who are primarily responsible for fashioning the plan — Friedman said:
“We are close friends, the three of us, that have known each other for two decades,” Friedman said. “We’ve also known the president for almost two decades. We’re completely loyal to him and the agenda of reaching a peace agreement — maybe that’s unique in Washington.”
“Every day, we have these discussions,” the ambassador continued, “and ultimately, at the end of every day, we arrive at exactly the same page. We talk about it — what about this, what about that — and then we say, okay, what do you think; and we come to a consensus. So, the idea that there’s daylight among the three of us is 100 percent not true. It’s just not true at all. And it has never been true.”
One senior U.S. official acknowledged that there have been delays, but credited them to prudence, not internal disputes: “To the extent that we delay it, or delay an announcement, it’s not for political reasons and it’s not because we have less enthusiasm. It’s because it’s not the right time in terms of launching it,” the official said.
The plan said to be waiting in a drawer somewhere in Washington; the question now is one of timing.
“Getting the right reaction is critical. The substance of this is obviously extremely important, but releasing it at a time when the substance can be accepted by the maximum number of players or participants is just as important,” a senior official told the Post on Wednesday.
“You can’t put something out where everybody says, ah, this is dead on arrival,” the official continued. “You can’t do that. And the same exact document that may be dead on arrival on a Monday might not be dead on arrival on a Thursday. That sounds kind of counter-intuitive, but that’s the way this works.”