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Trump's son-in-law Kushner to visit Middle East for anticipated Israel-Palestine peace plan

It is not clear how Trump's plan will deal with Jerusalem [AFP]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2019

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White House adviser and son-in-law of Trump Jared Kushner will visit several Arab states to brief diplomats about the economic contents of the long-anticipated peace plan.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will visit at least five Arab countries in February to brief diplomats on the economic components of the US peace proposal for the Middle East, officials said on Thursday.

Kushner, who is President Donald Trump's son-in-law, plans to gain support for the long-awaited plan dubbed 'Deal of the Century' to tackle the Israel-Palestine conflict.

The adviser does not plan to brief Arab diplomats on the political components of the peace plan. He plans instead to gauge support for a combination of aid and investment to assuage the economic frustrations of Palestinians.

The release of the peace plan was delayed by Trump's decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel in December 2017. White House officials speculate that the plan will be revealed some time after the April 9 Israeli general election, in which Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is contesting his position amid multiple corruption probes.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas refused to discuss any peace plan with the United States after Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem.

"
We hope Abbas reads the plan, judges it on its merits, and comes to the table for negotiations after we release the plan", one official said. "His people deserve nothing less."

It has not been made clear by officials how the plan deals with Jerusalem, which both Israel and Palestine claim as their capital. Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967 during the Six Day War.

It has been rumoured that Trump’s plan will suggest the West Bank town of Abu Dis, which is divided from Jerusalem by the separation wall, as the Palestinian capital, a plan previously discussed in the 1990s.

Abu Dis is located largely in Area C of the West Bank and is subject to near-full Israeli control. It was
reported on Wednesday that Israel plans to confiscate land in Abu Dis to build a road between two settlements.

Kushner, who will be accompanied by his aide Avi Berkowitz and Trump's Middle East envoy Brian Hooke, will travel to Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, two senior White House told Reuters. He may visit two additional Arab countries on the week-long trip, but he does not plan to visit Israel.

"Jared is going to share elements of the economic plan to the region. The economic plan only works if the region supports it," said one official, stressing the importance of economic planning to resolving the conflict.

The plan is expected to include international funding proposals for the Gaza strip, which has suffered massive economic and infrastructural losses since the imposition of a sea, land and air blockade by Israel in 2007.

White House officials admitted that Arab diplomats were unlikely to commit to the economic plan if they did not know the details of the proposed political solution, with one official noting that support for economic measures would be "conditioned" on agreement with the political plan.

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