Kushner heads to Brussels to brief EU officials on peace plan
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Kushner heads to Brussels to brief EU officials on peace plan

US president’s Mideast peace adviser to meet EU’s Juncker amid widespread doubts, including within Trump administration, about proposal’s feasibility

In this May 18, 2018 file photo, White House adviser Jared Kushner speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
In this May 18, 2018 file photo, White House adviser Jared Kushner speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and Middle East peace adviser Jared Kushner will hold talks with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker in Brussels on Tuesday, and is expected to give a briefing on details of the US peace plan.

Kushner is also expected to meet with European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.

Kushner will travel to Brussels from London, where his father-in-law is making a state visit, and the trip comes with international hopes for a US peace plan for the Middle East running low.

“The president will meet Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the president of the United States of America, Donald Trump. They will discuss the Middle East situation and other geopolitical issues,” EU commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva told reporters.

Trump, whose administration has staunchly backed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, acknowledged doubts about the plan himself on Monday, while Kushner suggested Palestinians weren’t ready to govern themselves.

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.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (L) is welcomed by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the European Commission in Brussels on March 27, 2017. (AFP Photo/Emmanuel Dunand)

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 in the midst of post-election turmoil, Netanyahu does not appear eager to embrace the US plan.

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 in September, are widely expected to set back the launch of the plan even further.

US President Donald Trump (R) meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office of the White House, March 5, 2018. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Meanwhile, Trump administration officials are dampening expectations about the peace plan roll-out. 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 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.”

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