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Trump to unveil long-stalled Middle East peace plan ahead of Israeli leaders' visit

Updated: 2020-01-24 07:54
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, US, Sept 26, 2018. [Photo/Agencies]

MIAMI - US President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.

The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.

Trump discussed the timing of the plan's release with two architects of the plan, senior advisers Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz, on Air Force One while returning to Washington from Switzerland on Wednesday.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One en route to the Miami area for a political event, Trump said Palestinians might react negatively to his plan at first, but that "it's actually very positive for them."

"It's a great plan," said Trump, who will meet with Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday. "It's a plan that really would work."

Vice President Mike Pence, on a visit to Jerusalem, extended an invitation to Netanyahu and Gantz to make the visit. It was not immediately clear whether Trump would meet the two leaders separately or together.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S Vice President Mike Pence prepare to shake hands during their meeting at the US embassy in Jerusalem January 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The Trump Middle East peace proposal is a document, dozens of pages long, that addresses in detail the thorny political issues between Israel and the Palestinians, such as the status of Jerusalem.

US officials made no mention of inviting the Palestinians, and Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said: "We warn Israel and the US administration not to cross any red lines."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Vice President Mike Pence prepare to shake hands during their meeting at the US embassy in Jerusalem January 23, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

Netanyahu said he had accepted the US invitation. His office said he would fly to the United States on Sunday. A Gantz spokesman did not respond when asked whether Gantz had accepted Trump’s invitation.

Netanyahu, a veteran right-wing Israeli leader, faces political and legal troubles at home - he is heading for his third election in less than a year, and was indicted on criminal charges in November. He denies any wrongdoing.

Israeli political analysts viewed Trump's invitation as a boost to Netanyahu, his right-wing ally.

Netanyahu's principal domestic political rival Gantz, a centrist former general, this week lifted his objection to having the peace plan be published before Israel's March election. He had previously objected to it as interference in the vote.

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