Mike Pompeo Says Trump's Middle East Peace Plan May Not 'Gain Traction,' May Be Seen As 'Unexecutable'

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has admitted that President Donald Trump's long-awaited Middle East peace plan may prove to be a diplomatic flop.

The international community is eagerly-awaiting details of the plan, which has been devised by the president's senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner and former lawyer Jason Greenblatt.

The White House has been tight-lipped about the nature or release date of the plan, which the Trump administration has touted as a way to break generations of stalemate between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kushner recently suggested the roll-out of the proposal would begin after Ramadan ends this week, though Palestinian opposition and political turmoil in Israel may further delay the White House timeline.

But according to audio recordings of a private meeting obtained by The Washington Post, Pompeo believes the plan—described as the "deal of the century"—may be dead on arrival.

In the closed-door meeting with Jewish leaders, Pompeo said that "one might argue" Trump's proposal is "unexecutable" and might not "gain traction" among those involved.

"It may be rejected," he told the meeting. "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.' The big question is can we get enough space that we can have a real conversation about how to build this out."

Pompeo has good reason to be concerned. Trump's administration has offered near-unquestioning support of Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu while cutting tens of millions of dollars of funding for Palestinian security services and refugee organizations.

Dialogue between Washington and the Palestinians collapsed entirely after Trump announced he would move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem—the disputed holy city claimed by Israel as its capital and by the Palestinians as the capital of a future independent state.

Hundreds of Palestinians were killed while protesting against the embassy and for the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to return to the lands they left upon the creation of Israel in 1948. Senior administration officials including Kushner and then-ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blamed the Palestinians for the bloodshed.

Though Kushner has said the new plan would call for compromise on both sides, observers suspect it will be designed primarily to boost Israeli security and the country's control of the remaining Palestinian territories.

The White House is expected to try and win Palestinian support with offers of economic incentives to create new opportunities in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where unemployment remains high and living standards low. The American team has also tried to secure commitments to infrastructure and industrial projects from wealthy Arab states.

Pompeo, who said he has "seen what I believe are all of the details of what it is we are going to roll out," said he understood why observers expected the plan to be biased in favor of Israel, the Post reported.

"I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love," he told the meeting. "I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit."

Asked whether the Palestinians could ever be brought on board, Pompeo warned that "everyone will find something to hate about the proposal." However, he assured those present that all parties "will find something that they say that's something to build upon."

Nonetheless, the secretary of state acknowledged the difficulties of resolving such an intractable conflict, and said the administration was not being overly optimistic. There are "no guarantees that we're the ones that unlock" the conflict, he explained, but said he hoped "everyone will engage in a serious way."

"We're under no illusions [that] we're going to show up with this thing and everyone's going to say, 'Tell me where to go for the signing ceremony,'" he added. "It doesn't work that way."

Mike Pompeo, Peace Plan, Middle East, Israel
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attends a press conference on June 2, 2019 in Bellinzona, Switzerland. AFP/Getty Images/FABRICE COFFRINI
Mike Pompeo Says Trump's Middle East Peace Plan May Not 'Gain Traction,' May Be Seen As 'Unexecutable' | World