Israeli election delays ‘deal of the century’

by WorldTribune Staff, September 23, 2019

The release of the Trump administration’s plan for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will be delayed “significantly” due to the still unsettled Israeli election, according to an Israeli news report.

In the weeks before the election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials estimated that the so-called “deal of the century” would be published very close to election day (Sept. 17).

U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. / U.S. Embassy / Creative Commons / CC BY 2.0

A senior U.S. official told Arutz Sheva on Sept. 22, however, that the results of the election and the uncertainty they have created in Israel will cause a significant delay in the publication of the plan.

“There is a different situation here and there may be a fundamentally different government than the one we have been working with in recent years. There is also no certainty that the prime minister will be the same person who is currently in office. Therefore, further examination of the situation will be required and the publication of the peace plan will be significantly delayed,” said the senior official.

While declining to set a date, the official said the plan would not be published within a matter of weeks and also predicted it would not happen in 2019.

U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, who recently announced he would be stepping down, has been in Israel for the past few days, meeting with Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.

A meeting between Greenblatt and Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz had not yet been finalized as of Sept. 22.

“Greenblatt recently said that if he recognizes that it is possible to publish the plan soon and obtain Palestinian consent to discuss it, he may remain in office for some time. For now, Greenblatt’s current visit seems to be mainly intended for summaries and not for new beginnings,” the Arutz Sheva report said.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu’s chances of being chosen to form Israel’s next government appear to have improved after three politicians from the country’s Arab minority made clear they would not endorse Gantz.

Support from the Joint List, which won 13 seats and made the bloc the third-largest force in the 120-seat Knesset, put Gantz slightly in front of Netanyahu. He had 57 recommendations, two ahead of the incumbent prime minister.

However, Rivlin, who is tasked after an election with picking a candidate to form a government, said on Sept. 23 that three Arab politicians from the Palestinian nationalist Balad party had abstained.

He confirmed the recommendations from the Joint List would account for only 10 endorsements, putting Netanyahu ahead by one recommendation.

“Rivlin, whose role is usually ceremonial, is not obliged to pick Netanyahu. He can choose any candidate he believes has the best chance of forming a government. Usually, the decision is clear, and often goes to the leader of the largest party, but the muddied election result has created an impasse,” The Guardian noted in a Sept. 23 report.

Rivlin has also suggested that since neither Netanyahu or Gantz have a majority of 61 seats that they form a unity government together.

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