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20:09, 11 November 2017

Trump Team Begins Drafting Middle East Peace Plan


WASHINGTON — President Trump and his advisers have begun establishing their own concrete blueprint to finish the decades-old conflict in between Israel and the Palestinians, a strategy intended to go beyond preceding frameworks presented by the American government in pursuit of what the president calls “the ultimate deal.”[1][two][3]

Following ten months of educating themselves on the complexities of the world’s most intractable dispute, White Residence officials said, Mr. Trump’s team of relative newcomers to Middle East peacemaking has moved into a new phase of its venture in hopes of transforming what it has learned into tangible methods to finish a stalemate that has frustrated even presidents with much more knowledge in the area.

The prospects for peace are caught up in a net of other issues consuming the region, as demonstrated in current days by Saudi Arabia’s growing confrontation with Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon. Israel is likewise worried about Hezbollah as nicely as efforts by Iran to establish a land corridor across southern Syria. If a war with Hezbollah broke out, it could scuttle any initiative with the Palestinians.[four][five][six][7]

Nonetheless, Mr. Trump’s group has collected “non-papers” exploring numerous troubles associated to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and officials mentioned they expected to address such perennial dividing points as the status of Jerusalem and settlements in the occupied West Bank. Despite the fact that Mr. Trump has not committed to a Palestinian state, analysts stated they anticipated that the strategy will have to be constructed about the so-referred to as two-state answer that has been the core of peacemaking efforts for years.

“We have spent a lot of time listening to and engaging with the Israelis, Palestinians and crucial regional leaders over the previous few months to aid reach an enduring peace deal,” mentioned Jason D. Greenblatt, the president’s chief negotiator. “We are not going to place an artificial timeline on the improvement or presentation of any particular ideas and will also in no way impose a deal. Our aim is to facilitate, not dictate, a lasting peace agreement to increase the lives of Israelis and Palestinians and security across the area.”

Mr. Trump, who considers himself a dealmaker, decided to adopt the challenge when he took workplace in January, intrigued at the notion of succeeding where other presidents failed, and he assigned the effort to Jared Kushner, his son-in-law and senior adviser. Neither had any background with the problem and the work was greeted with scorn, but the reality that the president entrusted it to a close relative was taken as a sign of seriousness in the region.

Mr. Trump’s group sees the convergence of variables that make the moment ripe, such as an increased willingness by Arab states to ultimately resolve the problem to refocus focus on Iran, which they take into account the bigger threat. With that in mind, Egypt is brokering a reconciliation among Mr. Abbas, who presides in the West Bank, and Hamas, which controls Gaza, a deal that would cement the Palestinian Authority as the representative of the Palestinian people. Saudi Arabia has summoned Mr. Abbas to Riyadh to reinforce the value of a deal.[eight][9][10][11][12]

“The stars start to align in a way that creates a moment,” stated Nimrod Novik, a fellow at the Israel Policy Forum who served as foreign policy adviser to former Prime Minister Shimon Peres, who negotiated the Oslo Accords in the 1990s. “But certainly the two key questions are will Prime Minister Netanyahu make a decision to go for it” and “will President Trump, when he’s presented a strategy by his group, decide it is worth the political capital essential.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in London this month. He faces pressure from the correct not to make concessions.CreditToby Melville/Reuters

Still, neither Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel nor President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority is in a powerful position to negotiate. Mr. Netanyahu faces corruption investigations and pressure from the right in his narrow coalition not to make concessions, while Mr. Abbas is aging and endures powerful opposition amongst his own constituents.[13][14][15]

Skepticism abounds, specially amongst these who spent years struggling to overcome the same challenges with the identical set of tools. President Barack Obama and his advisers debated placing forth their personal parameters for a deal final year, but in the end opted against even a general set of principles as time ran out on his administration.[16][17]

“There’s practically nothing new under the sun when it comes to Middle East peace,” said Philip Gordon, a White Home Middle East coordinator under Mr. Obama. “When you get into these particulars, that’s when you come up against the powerful objections of the two sides. If they don’t want it to be dead on arrival, they might wind up with vague principles, but as we’ve observed, even vague principles are beyond what the parties are prepared to embrace.”

Tamara Cofman Wittes, a State Division official under Mr. Obama, mentioned both Israeli and Palestinian leaders “are heavily constrained” not only by their own governing coalitions but by suspicious and threat-averse publics. “It’s hard even for willing political leaders to make major concessions under these circumstances,” she said.

The core 4-member team drafting the program contains Mr. Kushner, Mr. Greenblatt, Dina H. Powell, a deputy national security adviser, and David M. Friedman, the ambassador to Israel. They are consulting with Donald Blome, the consul general in Jerusalem, and other individuals from the State Department and National Security Council. Officials stated the work might take till early subsequent year.

Mr. Trump and his team make no bones about getting pro-Israel. The president has boasted of becoming Israel’s “biggest friend” and Mr. Kushner, Mr. Greenblatt and Mr. Friedman are all Orthodox Jews with ties to Israel. But Ms. Powell is an Egyptian-born Coptic Christian and Mr. Kushner has developed strong ties with the Saudis and other Arabs and recently returned from a visit to Riyadh. Mr. Trump has met with Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas three occasions every.[18]

The team has drawn praise from across the spectrum. “We do think this is a historic chance, and we will spare no effort to help President Trump’s investment in a much better future,” Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian Authority’s envoy to Washington, mentioned in an interview. Throughout a trip to London this month, Mr. Netanyahu said, “They are attempting to feel out of the box.”[19]

Barak Ravid, an Israeli journalist who has broken stories on the American effort, wrote in the left-leaning Haaretz newspaper last spring that Mr. Trump had “succeeded in bringing peace, which in current years had become a dirty word, back to the center of Israeli public and political discourse.”[20]

But privately, officials from each sides express concern that Mr. Trump and his group are still naïve about the Middle East and ineffective in accomplishing their objectives.

Dennis Ross, the veteran Middle East peace negotiator, stated Mr. Trump’s team has “done a quite great job of presenting themselves as having listened” and is now “taken seriously” in the region.

King Abdullah II of Jordan, left, with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority at the royal palace in Amman, Jordan, final month. Mr. Abbas faces opposition from his personal constituents and is not considered to be in a sturdy position to negotiate a peace deal.CreditMuhammad Hamed/Reuters

The selection to present a concrete strategy tends to make sense if ground is ready in advance. “If you just resume negotiations and nothing accompanies it, no one will take it seriously,” Mr. Ross said. “People will say we’ve noticed this film prior to. You have to show folks — no, something is diverse this time.”

Some analysts stated they believed Mr. Trump’s strategy could come with self-assurance-creating provisions that each side will currently have agreed to. For Israel, it could include limiting settlement construction to present blocs with out taking new land, recommitting to a two-state remedy and redesignating a small portion of the West Bank to give Palestinians a lot more control.

For the Palestinians, it could contain resuming complete security cooperation with Israel, holding off in search of further international recognition and ending payments to families of Palestinians imprisoned for terrorist attacks. Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, could add their personal commitments, like overflights by Israeli passenger planes, visas for business men and women and telecommunications hyperlinks.[21][22]

A White Home official dismissed that as mere speculation. But the challenges of getting even to that stage are formidable, much less tackling harder questions.

Mr. Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy, mentioned any program have to establish a sovereign Palestinian state along the borders from prior to the 1967 Arab-Israeli war with East Jerusalem as its capital. “This is not our maximum. This is our minimum,” he said. “What everyone wants to realize is the historic compromise has currently been created.”

Israel’s allies in Washington are pressing from the other side. The Residence Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday will consider a bill to reduce aid to the Palestinian Authority unless it ends payments to families of Palestinian attackers.[23]

“If the Palestinians are going to be trustworthy partners in any sort of peace discussion, they have to show that they’re not inciting terrorism,” mentioned Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado sponsoring the legislation. “And when you pay people — and, in reality, if you spend them more, the much more Jews they kill — that’s pure incitement to terrorism.”

Palestinian leaders say the payments are meant to support destitute households, not market terrorism, and they accuse Israel of subsidizing violence by encouraging settlers in the West Bank. One compromise floated lately would have the Palestinian Authority help these families by way of a common welfare program that does not prioritize relatives of prisoners.

Nevertheless, some analysts feel Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Abbas are just playing along with the goal of ensuring the other is blamed when the process collapses.

“The greatest impediment to the peace approach is the two leaders,” said Grant Rumley, a scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Ultimately, both Netanyahu and Abbas just have this extended, lengthy history and they’ve played this game truly effectively. And they don’t trust every other and I don’t consider they will ever get to the point where they will trust every single other.”

A version of this report appears in print on of the New York edition with the headline: Team Led by Kushner Operates On ‘Ultimate Deal’ for Mideast. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe[24][25][26]

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