Speed Reads

High Hopes

Trump to unveil Mideast peace plan with freshly indicted Netanyahu as Bolton roils Trump's impeachment trial

President Trump is scheduled to unveil his administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan at noon Tuesday at the White House, accompanied by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. There is widespread skepticism about the viability of the secret plan, three years in the making, because it is expected to be very favorable to Israel and Palestinians have rejected it out of hand. "It's been worked on by everybody, and we'll see whether or not it catches hold," Trump said Monday, alongside Netanyahu. "If it does, that would be great, and if it doesn't, we can live with it, too. But I think it might have a chance."

The Israeli news media have speculated that Trump's plan will endorse Israel's annexation of large portions of occupied territory that Palestinians would expect for an independent state, all but ending the broad international consensus that a two-state solution is the only workable end goal of Israeli-Palestinian talks. But "Trump has spent three years accruing political capital" with Netanyahu, Jonathan Swan speculates at Axios, and "if he offers the Palestinians their own state," it's "hard to imagine Netanyahu defying him even if he faces internal pressure" from his conservative nationalist base.

Whatever the details, the rollout of the plan will be a welcome distraction for Trump, whose ongoing Senate impeachment trial has been upended by leaked manuscript excerpts from former National Security Adviser John Bolton's forthcoming book, and for Netanyahu. Israeli prosecutors formally indicted Netanyahu early Tuesday on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases, hours after Netanyahu withdrew a petition for immunity from prosecution to be debated in Israel's Knesset, or parliament. He was expected to lose the vote, dealing him a political blow as he faces Israel's third election in a year on March 2.