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Tuesday 20th March 2018

Will US Reveal New Middle East Peace Deal after Israeli Elections?


Hussein Nagah - 7D News London

Thu, 07 Mar 2019 19:02 GMT

After more than two years of drafting and re-drafting, consultations, and tours of the Middle East to finalize it, the peace plan initiated by President Trump and orchestrated by his adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner still remains a mystery.

The debate over the US peace plan known as the "Deal of the Century" reopened after Jared Kushner, the White House senior adviser, made a six-country tour of the region at the end of February.

Kushner arrived in Abu Dhabi on Monday, February 25th, to seek support for the US peace plan from the leaders of countries in the region including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Turkey and Israel, according to a statement issued by the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Kushner’s trip ended with the same repeated statements, which stressed only the need for more discussions and to confirm that the visits were to bolster the mutual links between the US and its allies.

Only a few details were revealed about the plan, when Kushner spoke about economic initiatives at the expense of a land-for-peace deal, which was the core of the Arab Peace Initiative endorsed by the Arab League in 2002.

David Makovsky, a senior adviser to the special US envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in 2013-14 told 7Dnews that he hopes the new plan will keep the core issues of the Arab Peace Initiative alongside the economic initiative as a new approach to help in solving the conflict, although Makovsky was still sceptical about the effectiveness of a one-sided approach.

“An economic solution alone will fail,” Makovsky said, adding that "it’s too early to decide or to say that plan will succeed as it ensures high risks that could lead to failure.”

However, Makovsky, who is now a consultant at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it is better to wait and see what will come next.

The first round of the Kushner tour was focused on the economic side while the second, which is due after the Israeli elections in April, will discuss the political angles, Makovsky expects.

He also believes that the April elections will play an important role in this plan as well as in the outcome of Trump’s disputes with Democrats.

Both sides – Trump and Israeli PM Netanyahu – are going through a sensitive time, so it is inappropriate for either of them to speak about the plan details at the moment, he told 7Dnews in a call from Washington DC.

Meanwhile, Mahmoud Al-Habash, a senior adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told 7Dnews that, “any deal or other plans that are not founded on giving Palestinians an independent and sovereign Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital will not be acceptable.”

He said that the Palestinian Authority has refused to meet any US officials since its decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem as they exceeded all red lines as a mediator in the conflict.

Al-Habash noted that the attempts by the Trump administration and Netanyahu to normalize relations with Arab countries or talk about mutual economic benefits will not bring peace or security to Israel.

Speaking to 7Dnews from Ramallah, Al-Habash said: “Putting the Arab peace initiative of 2002 forward and working to implement it is the only way to bring peace.”

However, Makovsky cautions Palestinians not to reject the plan without knowing the details. “It’s better to go and discuss and see what the details are and then negotiate and add your demands,” he said.

He added that Arab leaders should also play a role in persuading Palestinians to go to the table, mainly because Netanyahu "was counting on Abbas to say no,” a move which would give Israel’s hard-right parties the result they expected after supporting his re-election bid.

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