Arab leaders have asked the White House not to reveal the details of its much-touted peace plan so as not to destabilize the entire Middle East, Palestinian officials told the Haaretz newspaper in a Friday report.
The officials said the plan’s failure to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state or address the issue of Palestinian refugees would enrage the region’s Arab population.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt recently visited Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt to discuss the plan. However, they did not meet with representatives from the Palestinian Authority, as President Mahmoud Abbas has cut off all contact with Washington over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.
Officials in Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, which are all suffering their own domestic difficulties, told the US delegation that unveiling the plan could cause an “earthquake,” the Palestinian official told Haaretz.
“Egypt has no lack of internal problems with terror in the Sinai; Jordan is facing huge internal difficulties and dealing with the implications of the war in Syria; and the Saudis [are occupied] with Yemen and the struggle with Iran,” a Palestinian official told the paper.
“If the administration suggested a plan without Jerusalem and without refugees, it would cause an earthquake. The implications could shake the stability of the entire region, and nobody wants that.”
Earlier this week, as he welcomed King Abdullah II of Jordan to the White House, Trump ignored a question about when the plan would be made public, answering only “We’re doing very well” in the Middle East.
The Palestinian official also told Haaretz that representatives of Arab nations who met with Kushner and Greenblatt all presented the Americans with a united front on any peace deal, saying it had to include the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with Jerusalem as its capital.
According to the official this disagreement led the parties to subsequently switch their focus to the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and ways to resolve it.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)Israel is in talks with Cyprus on construction of a seaport to allow shipments to Gaza which would not have to go through Israel first. Israel is also reportedly planning to build a new solar field to end the electricity crisis in the coastal enclave.
Kushner and Greenblatt’s trip came after weeks of deadly violence along the Gaza border, with tens of thousands of Palestinians taking part in the ongoing Hamas-backed “March of Return” protests at the border.
Gaza faces shortages of electricity and drinkable water. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip that they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build military equipment or cross-border tunnels.
The deteriorating living conditions have been cited by security officials as a factor fueling the violent clashes on Israel’s border.
Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.