US peace team returns to region next week but no set meetings with PA

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt plan on meeting with senior officials in Jerusalem, Cairo and Riyadh, but not Ramallah – unless explicitly invited.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

US President Donald Trump’s senior advisors in charge of formulating an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan are returning to the region next week, a senior administration official announced Tuesday, Channel 10 TV reported.

It will be Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt’s first time back to Israel since the US officially transferred its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on Israel’s 70th birthday in May. They will “hear the positions that the various sides in the region have” on the timing of presenting their peace plan, the official said, because it’s important to do so “when circumstances are right.”

The US team will also visit Cairo and Riyadh. One of the critical parties, however, is not included on the visitors’ agenda.

“The Palestinian leadership has made it clear that it does not want to meet the White House peace team,” the official continued. “Therefore, we did not ask to meet the Palestinians on this visit. The Palestinian leadership will know that Kushner and Greenblatt are in the area, and if they want to meet, we will be happy to do so.”

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The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been furious with Trump ever since he announced Washington’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December. The PA has said numerous times that it will reject the US peace plan if presented to them.

Another issue to be discussed with the Saudis, Egyptians and Israelis is the situation in the Gaza Strip and the ongoing deadly violence at the Israel-Gaza border.

“So far, no one has a clear plan on how to solve the crisis in Gaza, and we want to discuss it with the Israelis and the countries of the region,” the US official said.

Here, too, the most involved party is out of the loop, as neither the Americans nor the Israelis talk directly to the Hamas government, a designated terrorist organization that runs the coastal enclave with an iron fist.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman went to Washington at the beginning of the week both for routine talks with the administration and to get personally updated before the negotiating team’s upcoming trip.