The European Union on Tuesday said the US administration long-awaited Middle East peace plan must consider the “legitimate aspirations” of both Israel and the Palestinians, after top officials in the bloc were briefed on the proposal by White House official Jared Kushner.
Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, met in Brussels with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. A statement from the EU said the two listened to Kushner’s “ideas and underlined the fundamental interest of the European Union for a lasting and sustainable peace and stability to the region.”
“The economic development of the whole region is crucial. It must be accompanied by viable political solution that takes into account the legitimate aspirations of both the Palestinians and the Israelis and the agreed international parameters,” the EU statement said.
The US is to lay out an economic component of the plan, which has been spearheaded by Kushner, on June 25 and 26 in Bahrain, where Gulf Arab states are expected to make pledges to boost the troubled Palestinian economy.
But it is not clear when the political aspects of the plan — which are expected to avoid calling for the creation of a Palestinian state — will be unveiled. Abandoning the call for a Palestinian state would end years of US support for the so-called two-state solution, which envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The EU is still firmly behind the two-state solution, while the Trump administration has refrained from endorsing the position long held by the international community.
The Palestinians have already dismissed the Trump peace plan and said they will not attend the Bahrain summit, rejecting it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the Trump administration in late 2017 after it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Palestinians envision East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.
Israel said it would attend the Bahrain summit, but with elections coming up in September, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could be wary of embracing a plan likely to be rejected by his right-wing supporters.
The release of the administration’s plan has repeatedly been postponed and the collapse of Israeli coalition negotiations last week and the move to hold fresh elections are widely expected to set back the launch of the plan even further.
Meanwhile, Trump administration officials are dampening expectations about the peace plan rollout. Kushner in an interview broadcast Sunday expressed doubts about the Palestinians’ ability to govern themselves without Israeli involvement. “The hope is that over time, they can become capable of governing,” he told the Axios news site.
On Monday, the Washington Post published leaked remarks made by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who told US Jewish leaders in a closed-door conversation that the plan might not “gain traction.”
When asked about Pompeo’s skepticism, Trump told reporters outside the White House: “He may be right.”