JERUSALEM (AA) – The U.S. administration will ask Israel to withdraw from four Arab neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, which will likely become the capital of a future Palestinian state, according to an Israeli press report.
Israeli daily The Jerusalem Post reported Friday that U.S. officials had informed Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman about the plan during the latter’s visit to Washington last week.
“The transfer of control over the neighborhoods — Jebl Mukabar, Isawiya, Shuafat and Abu Dis — was presented to Lieberman as just one piece of the larger peace plan the administration has been working on over the last year,” the newspaper reported.
“Israel, the [U.S.] officials indicated, would be expected to accept the plan once it is presented despite the potentially painful concessions,” it added, without naming the U.S. “officials” in question.
Publicly, however, U.S. officials have denied the report, telling the Jerusalem Post: “President Donald Trump’s plan has not yet been completed but has entered its final stages of development.”
The same newspaper went on to report that, during his recent visit to Washington, Lieberman had met with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser; National Security Adviser John Bolton; Secretary of Defense James Mattis; and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s Middle East envoy.
Lieberman’s office, meanwhile, has declined to comment on what was discussed at the Washington meetings.
According to unconfirmed reports, Trump’s peace plan calls for across-the-board Arab recognition of Israel — and of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — and the annexation by the Jewish state of large West Bank settlement blocs.
Until now, however, the Palestinian leadership — both in Gaza City and Ramallah — has voiced its rejection of the plan’s purported terms.
Last December, Trump unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, sparking widespread condemnation across the Arab and Muslim world.