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US peace plan will be a basis for direct talks

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The US Middle East peace plan will not be a “take it or leave it” proposal but a basis for direct talks between Israelis and Palestinians, according to White House officials.

Ha’aretz reports that US officials expect the plan to be revealed soon. US President Donald Trump’s special adviser Jared Kushner and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt will be visiting Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia next week to discuss the peace plan.

“Our top priority is to put it out at the right moment, so that the various spoilers who don’t want us to succeed have less of a chance to cause damage,” one US official said. “We are a facilitator. It would be arrogant to assume we know better than anyone else … at the end of the day, the two sides need to negotiate and reach an agreement. We want to help them reach that point, but we can’t structure the agreement for them.”

The US has criticised Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas for refusing to engage with the Trump Administration since it recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel last December. “We assume there will be fair and substantial criticism of the plan, but we are astonished that Abbas won’t even see it. It would be a shame for the Palestinian people if the Palestinian leadership refuses to engage with this plan,” another US official said.

At the same time, the officials stressed that the administration is not looking for a way to bypass Abbas and is not speaking to any other Palestinian political figures.

Reflecting on the Singapore summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung-Un, the officials said the meeting proves that Trump’s unusual approach to foreign policy is working and that it should give “hope to people in the Middle East that things can get better”.

The US peace proposal will not unfairly favour Israel over the Palestinians, Channel 10 reported on Wednesday, citing US officials familiar with the Trump administration’s efforts.

“Our peace plan won’t be the Bibi plan. It will be fair, balanced, realistic and fitting,” the report quoted a US official as saying.