The grand mufti of Jerusalem on Friday castigated US President Donald Trump’s as-yet unannounced peace plan in his sermon to 90,000 worshipers gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
Speaking at Eid al-Fitr prayers marking the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, Sheikh Muhammad Hussein, the city’s highest Islamic authority, said it was an “unfair plan that aims at the liquidation of the Palestinian cause.”
Trump has promised the “ultimate deal” between Israelis and Palestinians and is expected to unveil the plan soon.
White House special adviser Jared Kushner and US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt will travel to the region next week and are expected to hold talks with leaders on when to present a Trump administration proposal, as well as to seek ideas on resolving the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
The tour comes amid a nadir in relations between the United States and the Palestinians, with the Palestinian Authority refusing to speak to Washington over the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and the subsequent relocation of the US embassy to the city last month. Palestinians say the moves disqualify the US as Mideast peace broker.
No meetings with Palestinian officials have been scheduled so far during the tour, but Channel 10 TV quoted a US official saying that if the Palestinians show willingness to meet the pair of US envoys, the American team would be open to a meeting.
In a separate Channel 10 report this week, an American official pledged the Trump peace proposal wouldn’t unfairly favor Israel over the Palestinians.
“Our peace plan won’t be the Bibi plan. It will be fair, balanced, realistic and fitting,” the report quoted a US official as saying, referring to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Regarding Gaza, the American official told the television channel earlier this week that Washington has no clear plan for resolving the humanitarian situation in the coastal enclave and was therefore seeking Israeli and regional ideas.
Gaza faces shortages of electricity and drinkable water. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip which they say is designed to prevent the Hamas terror group 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 major factor fueling violent clashes on Israel’s border with the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave.
Israel has said the humanitarian situation will not improve until Hamas returns the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the two civilian captives it holds. It blames Hamas for the dire reality, charging the terror group with diverting millions in aid to purchase weapons, dig tunnels, manufacture rockets and train its military wing, instead of using it for the welfare of the people.