France to Lead on Middle East Peace if Trump-Kushner Plan Not Released Soon, Israeli Reports Say

French President Emmanuel Macron plans to put forward his own plan for Middle East peace if President Donald Trump and adviser Jared Kushner’s long-awaited road map is not unveiled shortly after U.S. midterm elections next month, according to reported comments by Israel’s Foreign Ministry Political Director Alon Ushpiz.

Ushpiz reportedly made the remarks in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Tuesday. He explained that Macron intended to pressure the Trump administration to move more quickly on a peace plan, while also highlighting the perceived importance of the U.S. midterm elections to Israel.

“The elections in November are critical for Israel. A third of the members [of Congress] will be replaced and it’s not clear if they are all for us. We are starting from zero. We believe the Democrats will grow stronger and therefore there’s an effect on Israel due to their influence on Trump,” he said, Israeli newspaper Haaretz and other Israeli media reported.

GettyImages-967846756 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu descends the stairs as French President Emmanuel Macron puts a hand on his shoulder after a meeting at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, on June 5. Israel’s Foreign Ministry Political Director Alon Ushpiz explained that Macron intended to pressure the Trump administration to move more quickly on a peace plan. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images

When questioned directly about Ushpiz comments, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said the reports were “full of mistakes and imprecisions.” France’s embassy in Israel also distanced itself from the reports, saying it did “not know what the journalist is referring to.”

The reports follow others by Israeli media that suggested Trump aimed to pressure Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into making concessions to the Palestinians. Israel’s Channel 10 reported that Trump told his French counterpart that he could get “tough” with Netanyahu.

“I gave Bibi [a nickname for the Israeli prime minister] a lot —I transferred the embassy to Jerusalem,” Trump reportedly said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “You know, Emmanuel, I can be tough with Bibi,” the president reportedly told the French president.

Neither confirming nor denying the Channel 10 report, a White House spokesperson told the Israeli newspaper, “The president believes that the prime minister is committed to pursuing a comprehensive and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians."

GettyImages-958401850 Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin claps as President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka unveils an inauguration plaque during the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, on May 14. The Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their historic capital, leading to large-scale demonstrations in the wake of the opening. MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images

Trump has tasked his close adviser and son-in-law Kushner with spearheading his administration’s Middle East peace plan. Although the White House has repeatedly promised that the road map is forthcoming, it has not given a precise timeline.

With the White House officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the U.S. Embassy to the historic city in May, many Palestinian leaders have expressed distrust and rejection of American efforts to broker peace. The Palestinians also recognize Jerusalem as their historic capital, hence leading them and their supporters to conduct large-scale demonstrations in the wake of Trump's decision.

Join the Discussion