- The Washington Times - Monday, January 27, 2020

The Democratic leaders of the House and Senate Foreign Relations Committees are calling on President Trump to encourage both Israel and Palestine to return to the negotiating table after Palestinian leaders slammed the White House’s peace plan that is expected to be revealed this week.

Just hours ahead of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz in Washington to review the highly anticipated peace plan, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the Palestinians will reject the proposal and alleged it is drafted to protect the American and Israeli leaders from troubles back home.

“We demand the international community not be a partner to it because it contradicts the basics of international law and inalienable Palestinian rights,” Mr. Shtayyeh said at a Cabinet meeting in Ramallah.

Rep. Eliot L. Engel, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Sen. Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, encouraged a two-state solution and said they “welcome any effort that will help advance those goals.”

“A two-state solution cannot be born on the backs of unilateral actions from either side,” they continued. “Unilateral actions do not contribute to a sustainable peace and would not serve U.S. interests. Unilateral steps would make it harder to come back to the negotiating table and could set unrealistic expectations and unachievable demands.”

The specifics of the plan has remained under wraps for several years as the administration, led by Mr. Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, pursued negotiations.

Mr. Trump on Monday gave a slight preview of the plan, calling it “very big” and the “closest it’s ever come.” He said he expects to receive the support of the Palestinians, “but we’re going to see.”

In a statement, Mr. Menendez of New Jersey and Mr. Engel of New York, said, “Israel’s security is non-negotiable,” and cited the necessity of maintaining a Democratic system. They added that the establishment of a Palestinian state “would provide a home for millions of Palestinians … [who] deserve the right to self-determination, and the United States should support this goal.”

Mr. Trump is expected to announce the specifics of the plan in a joint press conference with the Israeli leaders on Tuesday.

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