Palestinian officials believe that US President Donald Trump will lay out a plan in the coming months on reaching an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal as part of his administration’s efforts to revive peace talks between the sides, according to a Sunday report.
During a meeting in Ramallah Thursday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Trump would present the plan in the next three to four months in exchange for the Palestinian leader abandoning efforts to pursue statehood in international bodies, the Israel Hayom daily reported Sunday, citing an unnamed Palestinian official.
The paper said Abbas agreed to Kushner’s proposal, but demanded that Trump personally commit to the US peace plan, setting a meeting between the two leaders during the UN General Assembly in September.
The US plan would include a set timetable for talks, which would focus on the so-called core issues of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Palestinian official said.
The report of the planned US proposal came amid recent signs of disillusionment from Abbas over US peace efforts.
On Saturday, the White House dismissed as nonsense a report in the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat that Kushner had warned Abbas that a settlement freeze long sought by the Palestinians could not be a precondition for talks.
In contrast, the Al-Monitor news site reported Friday that Abbas came away from the meeting pleased with Trump’s commitment to the peace process.
“Today we understood more than ever that President Trump is indeed engaged [in the diplomatic process], he knows what his team is working on and what they are talking about, and he also found time despite the mess he is in to convey messages to Abbas,” an unnamed Palestinian source told Al-Monitor.
The Palestinian source also said Kushner told Abbas the US was under the impression the PA president does not trust the White House and stressed that the US is working hard toward creating the conditions for a peace deal.
“There was a feeling that the Americans were offended,” the source said, “and that’s why Abbas was quick to explain himself and say that he was willing to reach a peace deal.”
Despite his recent pessimism, Abbas sounded a positive note during his meeting with Kushner.
“We know that this issue is difficult and complex, but nothing is impossible in the face of good efforts,” Abbas said during the parley with Kushner, according to official PA news outlet Wafa.
“We affirm that this [US] delegation is working toward peace, and we are working with it to achieve soon what Trump called the ‘peace deal,’” he added.
Palestinian security chief Majid Faraj told Al-Monitor that Abbas was facing pressure at home to move forward on peace efforts.
“While Netanyahu keeps putting up obstacles to avoid getting to the negotiating table for fear that his government will collapse, Abbas wants to move forward because he is under growing domestic pressure,” he said.
The Palestinian leader’s remarks expressing confidence in US efforts came despite the Trump administration’s continued refusal to endorse the two-state solution, in order to not, as State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Wednesday, “bias one side over the other.”
In his remarks carried by the official PA news outlet, Wafa, Kushner did not mention a two-state solution and only offered vague sentiments about peace in the future.
“President Trump is very optimistic and hopes for a better future for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people,” Kushner said. “We hope they can work together and live together for many years and have a much better life.”
Prior to meeting with Abbas last week, Kushner met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, where he told the premier that Trump is “very committed” to help broker a peace deal.
“The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area,” he said. “We really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and and respectfully in the way that the president has asked him to do so.”
Netanyahu for his part told Kushner he believed peace was “within our reach.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.