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Trump’s hopes for Middle East peace deal falter

Monday 06/August/2018 - 01:44 PM
Sada El Balad
"Financial Times " newspaper- By "Mehul Srivastava ":

Donald Trump’s hopes of delivering the “ultimate deal” to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are foundering amid mounting Arab alarm that the US’s proposals will be tilted too far in Israel’s favour.

Arab officials have said any peace proposal has to wait until tensions between Israel and Hamas — the Islamist movement that controls Gaza — ease and Palestinian fury over the US’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital dissipates. A US diplomat said this message had been relayed to the plan’s architects، Jared Kushner، Mr Trump’s son-in-law and adviser، and Jason Greenblatt، the Middle East peace envoy.

Israel has killed more than 130 Gazans in protests and military strikes in the strip in recent months، in the worst violence since a 2014 war. Attempts to reconcile rival Palestinian factions — Fatah، which controls the West Bank، and Hamas — have faltered. And Arab officials worry that a US plan will be so lopsided that all parties will have no choice but to reject it، a Gulf official said.

The result is that the US focus has shifted from the White House’s plan to create a “broad-based set of working principles” for re-establishing talks between Israel and the Palestinians، to a narrower mission of creating an environment where any proposals would at least be entertained by Palestinian and Arab leaders، a US diplomat said.

An Arab diplomat said: “The Americans now seem to be prepared to withhold whatever they were planning.”

Reports had suggested the White House’s original plan envisaged a Palestinian capital based in the Abu Dis suburb of Jerusalem and the continued presence of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Palestinians regard such proposals as non-starters، arguing that they destroy their dream of a viable state. The White House hoped the Palestinians’ concerns would be tempered by Washington’s recognition of a Palestinian state، and economic support، according to one US official.

Trump administration officials deny that the leaked details reflect their plans and insist they are on track، though it is unclear when the plan will be presented. “We’re certainly not foundering; if anything we’re actually staffing up for an eventual launch. We are strategising on the rollout of the plan to give it the best chance of success،” a senior Trump administration official said. “We are close to finishing the political part of the plan; we’re still heavily working on the economic part.”


Palestinian and Arab fears had been exacerbated by Mr Trump’s decision to reverse decades of US policy and open a US embassy in Jerusalem in May، dashing Palestinian hopes for a future two-state solution.

Israel considers Jerusalem its undivided capital، while Palestinians regard East Jerusalem as the future capital of a Palestinian state. Palestinian leaders، including president Mahmoud Abbas، have refused to meet US officials since Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December، and have not seen the administration’s proposals.

King Salman، has reassured Palestinian leaders of the Saudi Arabia continued support until the issue of Jerusalem as a shared capital is reopened، two Palestinian officials said. “They [Saudis] know and respect the fact that in the end، we have the right to say no to a bad deal،” said Nabil Shaath، a senior Palestinian official.

The US diplomat said King Salman has also raised the Arab peace initiative in conversations with American officials. That plan was initiated by Saudi Arabia in 2002، and offers Israel Arab recognition if Israelis withdraw from occupied territories.


Trump administration officials say the Arab peace initiative looks good on paper but lacks specifics. “Why rush something that’s so complex and difficult? We want to do this at the right time،” the administration official said. “We’ve said all along that we cannot reach a comprehensive peace agreement without resolving Gaza،” the official said. “It is parallel tracks — some weeks one might be a little ahead of the other.”

Edited by Rasha Mohamed

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