After TV report, US official says no peace proposal ‘imminent’
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After TV report, US official says no peace proposal ‘imminent’

Senior source says dialogue is ongoing, but administration will not impose an 'artificial deadline'

US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas COEX / AFP)
US President Donald Trump (L) is welcomed by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the presidential palace in the West Bank city of Bethlehem on May 23, 2017. (Thomas COEX / AFP)

A television report claiming US President Donald Trump’s administration will shortly unveil a formal proposal for Middle East peace is unfounded, although talks are continuing, a senior US official told The Times of Israel on Sunday.

Channel 2 television reported Sunday that the White House was close to revealing a “comprehensive regional arrangement.”

But a senior White House official said there were “no imminent plans” to reveal a talks outline.

“It would be more newsworthy if we weren’t working towards an enduring peace,” the source said. “We are engaged in a productive dialogue with all relevant parties about an enduring peace deal, but are not going to put an artificial deadline on anything. We have no imminent plans beyond continuing our conversations. As we have always said, our job is to facilitate a deal that works for both the Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them.”

Reports have proliferated in recent months that the administration is putting together a proposal, asking both the Israeli and Palestinians to hold off on any unilateral or inflammatory moves that could endanger any peace effort before its given a chance to get off the ground.

Earlier in the day, an administration official said that “creating a lasting peace agreement will take time,” in a statement on US special envoy Jason Greenblatt’s trip to Egypt to discuss a Palestinian reconciliation agreement.

The agreement between the rival Fatah and Hamas groups has cast some doubt on future peace efforts, with Israel saying it will not cooperate in a peace process with Hamas, unless the terror group renounces violence and recognizes Israel.

According to the television report, quoting unnamed sources in the Trump administration, the alleged proposal was drawn up on the basis that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a credible leader who genuinely seeks a permanent accord.

The TV report said the US proposal would be aimed at bringing Arab states to the peace table with Israel, and that its components would be open to negotiation by all sides.

Such an approach would apparently represent a departure from previous US peace efforts, which focused primarily on Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has argued repeatedly that progress on the Palestinian front can be best achieved in the wider context of warming Israeli ties with Arab states.

Administration officials have in the past made plain that a proposal will be put forward at some point in the near future, and that the administration will discuss its specifics at that time.

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