JERUSALEM (AA) – After a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump said that his “Deal of the Century” — a backchannel Middle East peace plan — would be unveiled within months.
The two men met on the sidelines of ongoing UN General Assembly meetings in New York.
After the meeting, Trump reiterated U.S. support for Israel, but also said that a two-state solution to the Middle East conflict would “work best”.
He went on to assert that his Middle East peace plan — details of which remain vague — would be made public within two or three months.
Saying the Palestinians would eventually return to the negotiating table, Trump said: “After our Jerusalem move [i.e., the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem], Israel will have to do something good for the Palestinians”.
The remark suggests that the Trump administration expects Israel to eventually offer concessions to longstanding Palestinian demands.
“A lot of progress has been made; Israel and the Palestinians want to do something,” Trump said. “We'll start moving pretty soon rapidly.”
He went on to stress his continued support for Israel’s right to “protect itself”, saying the self-proclaimed Jewish state had “no choice but to be aggressive”.
Netanyahu, for his part, thanked the U.S. president for supporting Israel and re-imposing sanctions on Iran.
Criticizing the latter’s “aggressive” behavior, the Israeli prime minister vowed that his country would defend itself against what he described as “Iranian aggression in Syria, Lebanon, and elsewhere”.
– ‘Deal of Century’
For the last several months, Trump administration officials have been speaking to leaders in the region with a view to hammering out a landmark Middle East peace plan.
Although details remain vague, it is believed that the plan includes several clauses favoring Israel, such as leaving occupied East Jerusalem in Israeli hands and ensuring the continued existence of Israel’s West Bank settlements.
Press reports also suggest that the plan fails to mention the repatriation of some 5.9 million Palestinian refugees who were driven from their homes to make way for Israel.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, for his part, has strenuously rejected Trump’s plan, describing it as the “slap of the century”.
Ever since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital late last year, Abbas has ruled out any role for the U.S. in the stalled Palestine-Israel peace process.
*Ali Murat Alhas contributed to this report from Ankara