US to focus on Gaza after Palestinians boycott Trump’s peace team – report

The US focus will shift from a peace initiative to improving the humanitarian situation in Gaza after Palestinians continue to refuse to meet with Trump’s peace negotiators.

By: World Israel News Staff

The Trump administration will shift focus from a peace initiative to improving the humanitarian conditions in Gaza after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas rejected all overtures from US President Donald Trump’s negotiation team.

According to a report in The Washington Post, the Trump administration hopes that making headway with the humanitarian crisis in Gaza will soften the intransigent PA leadership.

Quoting US officials, the Post reported that by improving the situation in Gaza, America would communicate to the Arab world its commitment to bettering the lives of Palestinians. This, it is hoped, would make it harder for Abbas and other Palestinian leaders to defy the Trump administration.

However, solving the many problems of Gaza are not seen as a pre-condition for launching Trump’s peace initiative.

“We definitely have a Gaza focus right now because the situation is the way it is, and we want to try to help,” an official told the newspaper. “But it’s not as though we think we need to fix Gaza first before we would air the peace plan.”

The Ramallah-based PA leadership has boycotted the US administration since the president’s announcement in December recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the State of Israel.

Last month the PA leadership refused to meet with US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and senior White House official Jared Kushner, who were in the region to discuss efforts to put forward an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan with allies in the region.

Gaza’s electricity supply is sporadic, providing power for only a few hours a day. A lack of sewage treatment or desalination combined with over-pumping from underground aquifers has resulted in a seawater seepage that has all but ruined Gaza’s potable water supply.

The clash between Hamas-controlled Gaza and the Palestinian leadership in Judea and Samaria has further exacerbated the situation. The PA has blocked the transfer of aid and salaries to Hamas-controlled Gaza and has imposed sanctions such as halting the funding of electricity, which is supplied by Israel.

The PA has reportedly pushed a reconciliation deal with Hamas to counter the US peace initiative.