Palestinians await ‘clear vision’ from US on peace talks
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Palestinians await ‘clear vision’ from US on peace talks

Ahead of meetings with Trump delegation, Mahmoud Abbas 'wants clarity' on US position regarding two-state solution

US presidential adviser Jared Kushner meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on June 21, 2017 (PA press office)
US presidential adviser Jared Kushner meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on June 21, 2017 (PA press office)

Palestinians are still waiting for a “clear vision” from the United States on plans for renewed peace talks with Israel, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said Sunday, ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump’s envoys.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh said Abbas “wants clarity” on the American position on the two-state solution — the basis of international diplomatic efforts for peace talks for the past two decades.

In February Trump appeared to break with the position of past US administrations by saying Washington was not necessarily committed to the two-state solution to the conflict, but to a framework acceptable to both parties.

Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell are set to arrive this weekend to discuss resuming talks that last collapsed in 2014.

Trump has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the “ultimate deal.”

Earlier in the day it was reported that Abbas said Trump’s administration was in “chaos,” and indicated that the White House’s disarray was affecting peace efforts.

“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas told a delegation of dovish Israeli lawmakers visiting Ramallah.

Abbas told parliamentarians from the Meretz party that he had met with US officials more than 20 times since Trump’s election in November 2016, yet still had little idea what their plans for peace negotiations were.

“Each time they reiterate their commitment to a two-state solution and a halt to settlement building,” he said, according to Hebrew media reports. “I urge them to tell Netanyahu that, but they refrain.”

He added that it was impossible to know what Trump and his team were planning.

Trump has asked his delegation to focus the talks on this trip around several broad themes, inclusive finding “a path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism [and dealing with] the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there,” according to a senior White House official.

While Ramallah has officially welcomed US peace efforts, officials have begun to grumble about what they see as a lack of commitment to a two-state solution or finding a way forward, as well as a bias toward Israel’s positions.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed the upcoming visit by the three top US officials.

A White House official told the Times of Israel earlier this month that Trump believes an “opportunity” has opened up to advance his peace initiative.

“He believes that the restoration of calm and the stabilized situation in Jerusalem after the recent crisis on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration,” the official told The Times of Israel.

Recently off-the-record remarks by Kushner — made to a casual gathering of congressional interns — were leaked to the media in which he said there may not be a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

 

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