Published: Sun, June 24, 2018

Trump adviser Kushner says he's 'ready to work' with Abbas

Trump adviser Kushner says he's 'ready to work' with Abbas

U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser, Jared Kushner, said the "Deal of the Century" - a backchannel plan to reach a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, will be announced soon.

"This whole administration is biased in favor of Israel", Saeb Erekat told Israel's Channel 10 news. "If anyone walked away, it was the Trump emissaries whose plan has nothing to do with a just and lasting peace and a lot to do with normalizing the Israeli apartheid regime", he stressed. "They want to impose facts, but that will not work for them".

Following Friday's meeting, the Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying the discussions centered on the diplomatic process with the Palestinians, regional developments and the security and humanitarian situation in Gaza.

Meanwhile, Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said on Saturday that American ideas or deals that bypass the PA leadership's position on Jerusalem, statehood and refugees will only lead to a dead-end. Asked if the new US peace plan would accommodate that view, he reiterated that it was up to the Israeli and Palestinian "leadership and people" to determine the shape of a final agreement.

"Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale".

"It's also outrageous to accept such blatant disregard of global law to be replaced with business packages to resolve the struggle of a people striving for their freedom", he said. He was referring to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage; if he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly", Kushner said, according to an English transcript of his words provided by Washington.

The article was published after the White House confirmed that Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, whom Trump has named as a special representative for global negotiations, met on Saturday evening in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and US Ambassador David Friedman "to continue their discussions that began on Friday". "Don't let your leadership reject a plan they haven't even seen", he added.

The top United States peace adviser was in the region ahead of the launch of a fresh peace effort.

Last week, Kushner and US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt held talks in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar and Israel as part of efforts to reach a peace deal between the Palestinians and Israel.

Abbas has severed communications with the Trump administration since December, when the USA formally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and announced plans to move its embassy there.

"Now, it is the time for both Israelis and Palestinians to strengthen their leadership to be open to a solution and not to fear of a mere attempt", he said.

Kushner said the plan is "almost done", but offered scant details aside from the promise of economic prosperity.

"Abbas has reiterated his commitment to peace and I have no reason not to believe him", he said.

"I question President Abbas' ability, or desire, to finish the deal". He has the same talking points that haven't changed in the past 25 years. To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions.

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