Palestinian presence at Mideast meeting not a negotiation

Erika Holt
February 10, 2019

For the plan to succeed or even pass the starting gate, it will need at least initial buy-in from both Israel and the Palestinians as well as from the Gulf Arab states, which officials say will be asked to substantially bankroll the economic portion.

"We would not be taking this trip if we were not serious about a launch in the coming months", said one senior White House official, who was granted anonymity to share details of the yet-unannounced trip.

Reuters reports Kushner and Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt will spend a week visiting Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Palestinian officials have been invited to a USA conference on the Middle East hosted by Poland next week where White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will discuss plans for peace between the Palestinians and Israelis, a senior US official said on Friday.

Kushner has been working on a peace plan for more than a year.

Seeking regional support for the economic plan is a step on the way to the eventual unveiling of Trump's sweeping proposals to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The economic plan is widely expected to include worldwide funding proposals for the impoverished Gaza Strip.

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While this trip will not focus on the political components of the peace plan, officials said Arab leaders will be hesitant to accept the economic aspects if they don't know the political aspects.

"They're not going to support the economic plan without making sure they also support the political plan, and we recognize that".

On Thursday, Kushner is set to take part in a discussion on how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Polish capital Warsaw.

"The malicious intentions of this administration were reiterated by US President Donald Trump in his State of the Union speech to Congress in which he stressed continuing with the policy of absolute bias toward Israel", said the statement carried on official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The Palestinians have refused to talk to the Trump administration since the U.S. leader recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

USA officials, meanwhile, have been meeting with Palestinians "from all walks of life" to keep lines of communication open, the official said.

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