Trump urges Israel to 'get their act together' amid election turmoil
US President Donald Trump, voicing impatience with close ally Israel, said on Sunday he was not happy about electoral upheaval there and urged the Israelis to "get their act together".
'Bibi got elected and now they have to go through the process again? We’re not happy about that'
- US President Donald Trump
Israeli lawmakers voted to dissolve parliament on Thursday, paving the way for a new election on 17 September after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government before the midnight deadline.
The need to go to the polls again so soon after a closely contested 9 April election in which Netanyahu had claimed victory showed a new weakness in a leader who has been in power for the past decade.
"Israel is all messed up in their election," Trump told reporters at the White House before leaving on a European trip. "They have to get their act together."
"Bibi got elected and now they have to go through the process again? We’re not happy about that," the president said.
Despite the remarks, Trump is expected to keep up his support for Netanyahu, who has forged close ties with the president over their tough stances on the Palestinians and Iran.
'The Palestinian cause is being liquidated'
The latest uncertainties clouding Israeli politics are expected to further delay the Trump administration's long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which already faces deep scepticism from many experts.
The Palestinian leadership has already boycotted the diplomatic effort that Trump has touted as the "deal of the century".
Speaking to the Reuters news agency on Friday, a senior Palestinian official said that "the plan doesn't give justice to the Palestinians".
"The Palestinian cause is being liquidated - no Jerusalem [as capital], no right of return for refugees, no sovereign state. That is why this American project is dangerous," the official said.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview broadcast in the US on Sunday that the Palestinians deserve "self-determination", but stopped short of backing Palestinian statehood and expressed uncertainty over their ability to govern themselves.
Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and a chief architect of the "deal of the century," told the "Axios on HBO" television programme it would be a "high bar" when asked if the Palestinians could expect freedom from Israeli military and government interference.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is worried the plan will be considered "unworkable," and might not gain traction, US media reported on Sunday.
Pompeo's remarks to a private meeting of Jewish leaders, first reported by the Washington Post, show that even the plan's own backers expect the latest US blueprint for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to be met with deep scepticism.
The economic components of the proposal are to be unveiled at a conference in Bahrain scheduled for 25-26 June.
"It may be rejected. 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 Washington Post reported, citing an audio recording of the meeting it had obtained.
When asked about the recording in an interview in Switzerland on Monday with the Sinclair Broadcast Group, Pompeo did not deny its authenticity.
He acknowledged that, given the "important relationship" the US has with Israel, "I could see how someone might be concerned that a plan that this administration put forward might - without knowing the true facts of what is contained in the plan - they might perceive that it was going to be fundamentally one-sided."
But, he stressed, "it is just simply not true. I think there will be things in this plan that lots of people like".
UN staying away
Along with the Palestinians another key broker in the peace process, the United Nations, says it will stay away from the Bahrain meeting.
The body has passed several resolutions affirming a two-state solution to the conflict.
In the remarks delivered last Tuesday to the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, Pompeo acknowledged the blueprint's perceived favouritism to Israel but hoped it would nonetheless be given a fair hearing.
"I get why people think this is going to be a deal that only the Israelis could love," he said, according to the Washington Post.
"I understand the perception of that. I hope everyone will just give the space to listen and let it settle in a little bit."
"We're doing our best to help the Middle East to get a peace plan," Trump told reporters when asked about the Pompeo recording.
"I understand why [Pompeo] said that. Most people would say it can't be done. I think it can be done."