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US team to visit Middle East next week

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US President Donald Trump’s senior diplomatic advisors will visit Israel, Egypt and Saudi Arabia next week to discuss their plan for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Israel’s Channel 10 News reported last night that Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner and US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt may meet with Palestinian officials, though none have been scheduled yet.

The Palestinians are currently refusing to meet the US team in protest at the relocation of the US Embassy to Jerusalem in May. A US official said: “The Palestinian leadership will know Kushner and Greenblatt are in the region and if the Palestinian leadership wants to meet, Kushner and Greenblatt are ready to meet.”

Greenblatt recently engaged in a war of words with Palestinian Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat. Greenblatt responded to an opinion piece by Erekat in Haaretz criticising US policy with his own Haaretz article, which said: “Inaccurate, unhelpful and false rhetoric of Palestinian leaders like Dr Erekat have not brought peace, and never will.” Erekat then published a second article dismissing the prospects for a US-led peace initiative.

Channel 10 News asked whether, having secured an agreement between the US and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, the Trump administration’s diplomatic team would now focus on the Middle East.

Israel Labour Party Chairman Avi Gabbay said yesterday, “What happened tonight between the United States and North Korea can happen here in the Middle East, too, or anywhere. It sounds crazy until it happens”.