US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Jewish leaders in a closed-door meeting last week that “one might argue” that the Trump administration’s peace plan is “unexecutable” and it might not “gain traction.”
Pompeo, who was quoted by The Washington Post on Sunday, made the comments at a meeting on Tuesday of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He expressed his hope that the deal isn’t simply dismissed out of hand.
“It may be rejected. Could be in the end, folks will say, ‘It’s not particularly original, it doesn’t particularly work for me,’ that is, ‘It’s got two good things and nine bad things, I’m out,’” Pompeo said in an audio recording of the private meeting obtained by The Washington Post.
“The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out,” added the Secretary of State.
“This has taken us longer to roll out our plan than I had originally thought it might — to put it lightly,” he continued, while also acknowledging that there are “no guarantees that we’re the ones that unlock [the Israeli-Arab conflict. I hope everyone will engage in a serious way.”
Pompeo also recognized the popular notion that the agreement will be one-sided in favor of the Israeli government.
“I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love,” he said, according to The Washington Post. “I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit.”
Two attendees said they left with the impression that Pompeo was not optimistic the plan would succeed. “He was not in any way confident that the process would lead to a successful conclusion,” said one of the attendees, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the terms of the meeting were off the record.
Elan Carr, the State Department’s special envoy to combat anti-Semitism who also attended the meeting, expressed a different view, saying he thought Pompeo “provided a hopeful assessment over the prospect of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.”
“It was an excellent briefing that was very well received by the conference,” he said in a statement offered by the State Department.
Pompeo also said the State Department had given “quite a bit of consideration” to what it would do if the plan “doesn’t gain traction.”
“I don’t want to call it failing,” he said. “Call it whatever. I fail a lot, so it’s not about not using a word like that.”
After a participant asked whether there was any effort to bring the Palestinians on board, Pompeo responded that “everyone will find something to hate about the proposal” but that everyone, including the Palestinians, “will find something that they say that’s something to build upon.”
The comments come ahead of the economic conference in Bahrain later this month, in which the Trump administration is planning to unveil the economic part of its plan.
A source familiar with the Trump peace plan recently told The Washington Post that it will include practical improvements in the lives of Palestinian Arabs but is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) in any case has rejected the US peace plan before it has even been unveiled. The PA has been boycotting the US ever since President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017.