US peace efforts in the region have come up against the Palestinians’ refusal to even meet.
By: World Israel News Staff and AP
US President Donald Trump’s Mideast team, led by son-in-law Jared Kushner, is in the region this week visiting Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel in an attempt to advance an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
One visit that will not be made is with the Palestinian leadership, which has repeatedly attacked the Trump administration over its decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is reportedly under pressure from Arab leaders to cooperate with the Americans.
On Tuesday, the Kushner team met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, and on Wednesday with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, acknowledging the talks only after the fact. They are expected to visit Qatar, followed by Israel toward the end of the week.
Kushner and envoy Jason Greenblatt issued only vague statements regarding the meetings, saying they discussed the “humanitarian situation in Gaza” and US efforts to “facilitate peace between Israelis and Palestinians.” They did not release an itinerary.
Mahmoud Abbas, the Ramallah-based Palestinian leader, has hardened his rejection of any US proposals, including large-scale Gaza aid projects meant to stabilize the territory.
Abbas aides, relying on Saudi information, say they suspect the aim is to get Palestinians to settle for a “mini-state” in Gaza and parts of Judea and Samaria, with a foothold in Jerusalem. This would fall far short of longstanding Palestinian demands for a state in the entire region of Judea and Samaria, Gaza and east Jerusalem.
Abbas has shunned the Trump administration since December, after US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was declared. The Palestinians say this was a blatant show of pro-Israel bias.
Abbas says he will reject any peace proposal made by the White House unless it rescinds its Jerusalem decision. It is unlikely the administration could find more amenable Palestinian leaders to work with, even after the 83-year-old Abbas, who has no plans to retire, exits the political stage.
The long-awaited US peace plan is not expected to be unveiled before August, following several postponements.