Trump unveils Mideast plan after Netanyahu indicted

By Ivana Kottasova and Angela Dewan, CNN

Updated 8:14 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020
12 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:52 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Netanyahu says Trump is "the greatest friend" that Israel has ever had in the White House

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images
Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has taken the stage, praising Trump for his plan and his support for Israel.

"Mr. President, because of this historic recognition and because I believe your peace plan strikes the right balance where other plans have failed, I have agreed to negotiate peace with the Palestinians on the basis of your peace plan," he said.

He went on with more praise for Trump:

It's a great plan for Israel, it's a great plan for peace. Frankly, Mr. President, given all that you have already done for Israel, I'm not surprised. You have been the greatest friend that Israel has ever had in the White House.
12:50 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Trump praises his plan, saying all prior administrations tried and "bitterly failed"

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Trump spent a part of his speech comparing his efforts at bringing peace to the Middle East with those of his predecessors.

All prior administrations from President Lyndon Johnson have tried and bitterly failed. But I was not elected to do small things or shy away from big problems."

He continued to say his vision for peace is "fundamentally different from past proposals." 

"In the past even the most well-intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual frame works. By contrast, our plan is 80 pages and it is the most detailed proposal ever put forward by far," he said.

"As I have seen throughout my long career as a dealmaker, complex problems require nuanced fact-based remedies. That is why our proposal provides precise technical solutions to make Israelis, Palestinians and the region safer and much more prosperous," he added.

12:49 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Trump also says plan will provide for a Palestinian state with a capital in eastern Jerusalem

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

Trump said he wants his plan to work for the Palestinians as well as the Israelis.

He said the plan "will more than double the Palestinian territory and provide a Palestinian capital in eastern Jerusalem where America will proudly open an embassy."

Trump said he wanted the plan to "be a great deal for the Palestinians." 

He said:

"It has to be. Today's agreement is a historic opportunity for the Palestinians to finally achieve an independent state of their very own. After 70 years of little progress, this could be the last opportunity they will ever have."

The plan will also form “a contiguous territory within the Palestinian state,” hinging upon Palestinians' “rejection of terrorism.” 

He added that no Palestinians or Israelis would be "uprooted from their homes." 

Trump stressed that his plan would "present no incremental security risk to the state of Israel whatsoever."

"We will not allow a return to the days of blood shed, bus bombings, nightclub attacks and relentless terror. It won't be allowed," he said.

12:37 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Trump says that under his plan, Jerusalem "will remain Israel's undivided capital"

Andrew Harrer/Blooomberg/Getty Images
Andrew Harrer/Blooomberg/Getty Images

Trump says that under his vision, Jerusalem "will remain Israel's undivided, very important, undivided capital."

Trump broke with decades of US foreign policy by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017. The move was praised by Netanyahu but rejected by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The final status of Jerusalem has always been one of the most difficult and sensitive questions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

For years, US policy had been to avoid declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel in the absence of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, as the Palestinians also claim Jerusalem as their capital. It was argued that a unilateral decision would break with international consensus and prejudge an issue that was supposed to be left to negotiations.

12:35 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Trump says his proposal is a realistic plan for a two-state solution and "big step towards peace"

From Maegan Vazquez

Alex Brandon/AP
Alex Brandon/AP

President Donald Trump unveiled his administration’s Middle East peace plan alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House on Tuesday. 

“Today Israel takes a big step towards peace,” Trump said. 

“Young people across the Middle East are ready for a more hopeful future and governments throughout the region are realizing that terrorism and Islamic extremism are everyone’s common enemy."

“It’s been a very long and arduous process to arrive at this moment. On Sunday I delivered to Prime Minister Netanyahu my vision of peace and prosperity, and a brighter future for Israelis and Palestinians. This vision for peace is fundamentally different from past proposals. In the past, even the most well intentioned plans were light on factual details and heavy on conceptual frameworks."

The administration’s ”vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides, a realistic two-state solution that resolves the risk of Palestinian statehood to Israel's security,” Trump added. 

Trump said that on Monday both Netanyahu and Benny Gantz -- Netanyahu's rival in upcoming elections -- both expressed “their support for this effort, proving that the state of Israel is looking for peace and peace transcends politics by any measure.” 

He joked that Gantz and Netanyahu are engaged in the “longest-running election of all time.”

12:10 p.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Happening now: Trump presents his plan

President Donald Trump has just arrived to present his plan for the Middle East.

11:54 a.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Ex-defense chief says Netanyahu is using Trump plan for his own political survival

From CNN’s Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman lia Yefimovich/DPA/Getty Images

Former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of using the Trump administration’s Middle East plan to try and secure his own political survival.

“Netanyahu is taking a political plan and turning it into a survival plan for him personally. Everyone understands that, 34 days before an election, it is impossible to start a deep, meaningful, fundamental discussion,” said Liberman, who is also chair of the Yisrael Beiteinu party.

Speaking on the Knesset TV channel, Liberman said he would support any vote to annex the Jordan Valley, but he again criticized the 70-year-old Israeli leader, saying: "If Netanyahu really wanted to apply sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, he could have done this a long time ago."

Netanyahu is scheduled to stand alongside US President Donald Trump later Tuesday as the US leader unveils his Mideast plan.

The announcement comes after Netanyahu was formally indicted in a series of corruption cases earlier Tuesday, and as impeachment proceedings against Trump continue.

11:33 a.m. ET, January 28, 2020

What is Netanyahu accused of?

By Oren Liebermann in Jerusalem

Case 4000: The Walla-Bezeq Case

In the most serious case, prosecutors say Netanyahu advanced regulatory benefits worth more than 1 billion shekels (approximately $280 million) to his friend, millionaire Shaul Elovitch, who owned the Walla! News website as part of his control of the Bezeq telecommunications company.

Prosecutors say that in exchange Netanyahu, who also served at that time as Israel's Minister of Communications, received favorable news coverage on Walla! as well as influence over the choice of stories and language used.

Israeli tycoon Shaul Elovitch, second from left, appears in the Justice Court in Tel Aviv in a corruption probe on February 22, 2018.
Israeli tycoon Shaul Elovitch, second from left, appears in the Justice Court in Tel Aviv in a corruption probe on February 22, 2018.

Beginning in late 2012, prosecutors say Netanyahu made "hundreds of demands, sometimes on a daily basis" for more positive news coverage, especially during election periods. On election day in 2015, prosecutors say Netanyahu demanded that the website feature prominently a video in which he declared, "The Arabs [are] going to the polls in droves."

Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit described the relationship between Netanyahu and Elovitch as "intensive, frequent, and extraordinary," adding that relations involving the wives of the two men were at a similar level.

Case 1000: The Gifts Case

Prosecutors say that between 2011 and 2016, Netanyahu received gifts from overseas businessmen, including expensive cigars and Champagne, which later turned into a "supply line." The value of the gifts was approximately $200,000. In particular, the gifts came from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer.

"The deliveries of Champagne were generally made at your wife's request," prosecutors wrote. "The deliveries of cigars were sometimes made at your request as well."

In return for the gifts, prosecutors say, Netanyahu helped Milchan with visa applications to the United States. Netanyahu also allegedly sought to pass tax amendments that would have benefited Milchan. Milchan and Packer have both maintained they are innocent. Netanyahu has also said the gifts his wife accepted were exchanges between friends.

Case 2000: The Yedioth Ahronot Case

Prosecutors say Netanyahu sought to make a deal with Arnon "Noni" Mozes, the owner of Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, that would have seen Netanyahu receive more favorable coverage. In return, the Israeli leader would then pursue legislation that would limit the circulation of Yedioth Ahronoth's rival, Israel HaYom -- at least that is what Netanyahu wanted Mozes to believe, prosecutors say.

The largest newspaper in the country, Israel HaYom, is owned by Sheldon Adelson and is widely seen as a mouthpiece for Netanyahu.

Prosecutors wrote in a filing against Netanyahu that the Prime Minister was “clearly taking advantage of your public role” in leading Mozes to believe he would promote legislation to benefit him.

Both Netanyahu and Mozes have said their discussions were not serious; rather, they each claim they were trying to expose the other's lack of trustworthiness. Mozes, who faces a potential charge of bribery, has insisted he is innocent.

11:06 a.m. ET, January 28, 2020

Israel adds troops to Jordan Valley

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are deploying more infantry to the Jordan Valley, the IDF announced Tuesday afternoon.

Netanyahu said last year he would annex the Jordan Valley should he be re-elected, though it is unclear whether the area would be included in Trump's Mideast plan.

A general view of the Israeli settlement of Maale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank, on Monday.
A general view of the Israeli settlement of Maale Efrayim in the Jordan Valley, in the occupied West Bank, on Monday.

The IDF made the deployment in anticipation of protests in the wake of plan's release.

"In accordance with the situation evaluation taking place at the IDF on a regular basis, it was decided to reinforce deployments in the Jordan Valley with infantry,” the IDF said in a statement.

If Israel annexed the Jordan Valley -- the easternmost part of the West Bank -- it would remove part of the land that Palestinians, with support from many in the international community, regard as the site of a future Palestinian state.