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US ambassador signals further delay in Trump Mideast peace plan

US President Donald Trump has been a firm supporter of Israel since taking office
US President Donald Trump has been a firm supporter of Israel since taking office AFP/File
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Jerusalem (AFP)

US President Donald Trump's long-awaited plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace is expected "within the next several months," the US ambassador to Israel has said, signalling a further delay in its release.

Trump said in September that the plan for what he has called the "ultimate deal" would be released within two to four months, while Israel's UN envoy said later it was expected in early 2019.

Israel has since called elections for April 9 and such a plan is seen by many analysts as too controversial to present ahead of polls.

"I would say within the next several months," ambassador David Friedman told journalists travelling with US National Security Adviser John Bolton after they arrived in Israel on Saturday, according to a transcript released Sunday by the US embassy.

"We want to release it in a way that gives it the best chance of getting a good reception."

He said that Israeli elections "are a factor, but not the only factor," adding that the plan is "pretty much completed" aside from some "wordsmithing and smoothing."

"The challenge to a peace plan is making the case for a much more sober assessment of the realities in this region," he said.

"The last time there was a meaningful agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians was 1993," Friedman added, referring to the first of the landmark Oslo accords. "A lot has happened since 1993."

Trump has been a firm supporter of Israel since taking office and has broken with decades of international consensus by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem.

He has also cut some $500 million in Palestinian aid.

The Palestinian leadership froze contact with the White House following the Jerusalem decision and has vowed not to engage with the peace plan unless the move is reversed.

It accuses Trump's administration of being blatantly biased in favour of Israel and says he is seeking to blackmail the Palestinians into accepting a plan that is likely to overwhelmingly favour Israel.

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