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Israeli PM: Trump Peace Plan to Go Forth Even if Democrat Elected

By VOA News February 20, 2020

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says even if a Democrat is elected president in November, Donald Trump's Mideast peace plan will still go forward.

But Netanyahu told The Jerusalem Post the only thing that can stop the plan is if he loses his own election on March 2.

"Once the Trump plan is put forward, the goal posts will have been moved, and it will be very difficult for any administration to move them back," he said. "Any administration, Democratic or Republican, will have to work with the new realities. ... I'm sure the next administration, whatever it will be, will have to consider the fact that there's a new plan."

But he said he is worried what would happen to Israel if opposition leader Benny Gantz and his centrist Blue and White Party wins the election and forms a new government, even if Gantz approved of Trump's plan when he met with the president at the White House last month

Trump's Middle East peace plan foresees an eventual Palestinian state, but would leave much of the West Bank, where the Palestinians want independence, in Israeli hands. There would also be Israeli enclaves within the new Palestinian state, and only a small and relatively impoverished part of east Jerusalem would be set aside for a Palestinian capital.

The plan does not include a major Palestinian demand – the "right of return" to lands taken from them when Israel was formed in 1948.

Israel and the U.S. cobbled the plan together without the Palestinians. They refused to participate, believing the U.S. would be pro-Israel.

Reaction from presidential candidates

Middle East peace has yet to emerge as a major issue in the Democratic presidential race. But all six major candidates have said the Trump plan is worthless without participation from both Israelis and Palestinians.

Senator Elizabeth Warren said diplomacy without the Palestinians is a sham, while former Vice President Joe Biden called the Trump plan a "stunt."

Former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg accused Trump of making a complex situation worse, while Senator Amy Klobuchar said unilateral implementation will eliminate any chance of a two-state solution.

The two Jewish Democratic candidates – businessman Mike Bloomberg and Senator Bernie Sanders – predict Trump's peace deal would only undermine the security of Israel, the Palestinians and the United States.

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