Trump's Middle East Peace Initiative Still on Hold

(Al-Monitor) Ben Caspit - Al-Monitor has learned that President Trump and his staff's original plan was to launch a U.S. Middle East peace initiative in January 2018, with an impressive ceremony in Washington with the participation of Israel and the Palestinians, as well as high-level representatives from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and the Quartet. The launch has now been delayed until March 2018. On Nov. 6, PA President Mahmoud Abbas was summoned to Riyadh. According to Palestinian sources, once there, Abbas received a message delivered to Riyadh by Trump aide Jared Kushner several days earlier: The American initiative was supposed to begin soon, and the U.S. expected the Palestinian leader to respond positively to it, even if there were certain elements of the deal that he did not like. The Palestinians must not reject the initiative out of hand, it was said. Every comment and reservation they had would be handled during the course of the negotiations. Diplomatic sources involved in the process believe the American initiative will not see the light of day unless Netanyahu agrees to it. Another important factor is that Trump has not even approved it yet and it will be brought to him only when it is finished. Sources say the initiative will consist of regional negotiations along three channels: Israeli-Palestinian with American mediation, Israeli-regional, and international (including rehabilitation of the refugee camps).

2017-11-14 00:00:00

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