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Trump Asks Netanyahu to Make his Peace Plan the Focal Election Campaign Issue

By DEBKAfile

President Donald Trump is asking Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to build his campaign around the "Deal of the Century" for an Israeli-Palestinian peace, DEBKAfile reported exclusively. This insistent request keeps on coming up in contacts with Washington, including Netanyahu's conversation with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Brazil on New Year's Day. The peace plan's authors, the president's advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, have been placed on standby for finally going public on their product in the near future.

In recent consultations at the White House, in which US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman also participated, the president was advised that publication of the peace plan would not be good for the prime minister and his Likud's chances and it would be better to wait until after the April 9 election. Trump, however, stood by his demand and put forward the following arguments for an early date of publication. Making it a central feature of Netanyahu's campaign would reuse the general election as a kind of referendum for its popular endorsement. As a focal of the prime minister's bid for re-election, the plan would fit in well with his plans for visits in the critical months of February and March of a string of world leaders, including Arab heads of government, to showcase his successes as minister of foreign affairs and defense. Trump believes that knowing the peace plan for the Palestinians was imminent would provide Arab leaders, especially in the Gulf, with an added incentive to make state visits to Israel or invite Netanyahu to visit their capitals.

Some of Trump's advisers suggested as a compromise that just sections of the peace plan be released at this stage, not the entire opus. They hoped that Trump would be deterred from losing patience and turning to twitter to unveil his plan, with the same abruptness as the US troop pullback from Syria last month. He could do this in a series of tweets.

On Tuesday, January 1, Israel's party strategists were engrossed in calculating how the Trump peace plan landing in the middle of the election campaign would affect their prospects. This scenario appeared more pressing even than Labor leader Avi Gabbay's sudden dumping of Tzipi Livni which was making waves. They also treated as a flash in the pan the media reports, soon to be denied, claiming that Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit had conferred with a flock of ex-prosecutors and legal whizzes on how to handle the cases against Netanyahu.

Arabic Daily: Liberman Revealed Details of Trump Plan to Palestinians

By World Israel News

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman revealed details of the Trump administration's carefully guarded peace plan to the Palestinians just ahead of his resignation in mid-November, Palestinian officials say, according to the London-based Al Hayat newspaper on Wednesday. The report said the Trump plan calls for a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip, and sovereignty for the population in small areas of the West Bank, as well as generous economic incentives.

Liberman met a Palestinian delegation two weeks before he resigned and said the U.S. plan, which President Donald Trump has dubbed the `deal of the century,' would grant sovereignty to the Palestinian population, but not the land, though the report did not go into further detail about how that would work in practice.

The Al-Hayat report said that sovereignty would be limited to Area A, roughly 13% of Judea and Samaria, parts of Area B (about 18% of Judea and Samaria) and a small part of Area C, which is about 60% of Judea and Samaria, Palestinian officials told the paper.

Jewish towns in Judea and Samaria would remain, and Israel would maintain control of security, water and external borders. Israel would also retain control of the Jordan Valley. Al-Hayat also reported that according to the Palestinian officials Israel would keep control of what it called "occupied East Jerusalem." The plan also provides for large influxes of money from donor nations to build up the Palestinian state's infrastructure in the Gaza Strip, including a port, airport etc.

The London-based Arabic daily also reported that President Mahmoud Abbas blasted the plan, saying the Palestinians would fight it. "This is a conspiracy, a conspiracy that they are going to be waging from afar," Abbas said in an improvised speech on Monday when the rumored details of the plan came to light. "They say wait for the deal, what are we waiting for? Everything is on the table, nothing is left hidden, and what they offer is rejected, rejected, rejected, and we will fight to prevent it, because we will not sell our sanctity," Abbas said, adding that U.S. sanctions against the Palestinians to pressure them to accept the deal wouldn't work," according to Al-Hayat.

Trump: Iran Can Do What it wants in Syria


US President Donald Trump stated on Wednesday that Iran "can do what they want" in Syria. He made the remarks during a press briefing at the White House in which he discussed the controversial withdrawal of US troops from Syria.

Trump justified the withdrawal by stating "We're talking about sand and death," in Syria. "We're not talking about vast wealth. He also blamed his predecessor, Barack Obama, for having lost Syria "long ago."

During the news conference, he stated that Iran was facing internal pressure to reform and that the regime was dealing with larger protests and riots from its own oppressed people "than ever before." He further stated that as a result of his policies, Iran was pulling much of its own forces out of places like Yemen and Syria, though he added "they can do whatever they want there, frankly."

Israeli officials worry that the US withdrawal could leave Iran unchecked in its ambitions to achieve a land bridge to the Mediterranean and make it easier for Iran to smuggle weapons to the Hizbullah terrorist organization.

An additional concern is the fate of the US' Kurdish allies in northeastern Syria, who were instrumental in the long battle against ISIS. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stated that his country is preparing a military operation in Syria targeting Kurdish forces in Syria. Trump stated during the media conference that the US would continue to protect its Kurdish allies even after the withdrawal.

Update on Family that Attempted to Marry Off 13-Year-Old


A Jerusalem family made the news last month, after their attempts to marry off their 13-year-old daughter were foiled by police, with the help of concerned members of the community. The ceremony, kept secret, was held in the Mea Shearim neighborhood. Police were familiar with the 13-year-old bride, as she had been abducted by her mother and reported missing two months prior. Though the most recent wedding attempt was stopped, the family's 16-year-old son is currently married.

As is to be expected, the ordeal was the culmination of a lengthy family history of abuse and poor mental health. Recently, the children's mother reportedly joined the "shawl cult," an extremist sub-group which requires women to wear full-body `burqa'-style coverings. The group has been condemned by the vast majority of mainstream haredi authorities. Both parents have now surrendered custody of the children, the youngest of whom is just 6 years old.

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