Russia warns Trump peace plan will undo all Israeli-Palestinian progress so far
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Russia warns Trump peace plan will undo all Israeli-Palestinian progress so far

FM Lavrov says Moscow ‘worried’ by ‘dangerous’ US approach, adds ‘deal of the century’ doesn’t include independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as capital

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with representatives of Palestinian groups and movements, who are in Moscow for intra-Palestinian talks, on February 12, 2019. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meets with representatives of Palestinian groups and movements, who are in Moscow for intra-Palestinian talks, on February 12, 2019. (Photo by Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Russia on Tuesday offered strong criticism of the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan proposed by US President Donald Trump’s administration, saying it would destroy all progress made so far in negotiations between both sides.

“For more than 2 years US colleagues have been promising to offer a ‘deal of the century,’” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told visiting Palestinian officials, according to a translation by the Russian embassy in Israel published in a series of tweets. “However, the available information makes it possible to evaluate this future ‘deal’ as destroying everything that has been done so far.”

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and other administration officials will head out to the Middle East later this month to brief diplomats in at least five countries on the economic section of the US proposal, which is bitterly opposed by the Palestinians.

Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, will be joined by US Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, US envoy for Iran Brian Hook and other administration officials who have worked on the economic part of the plan, dubbed the “deal of the century.”

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner with President Donald Trump at a meeting with Lebanon’s Saad Hariri in the White House, July 25, 2017. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Stops are confirmed in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Other stops could be added to the trip, according to a White House official.

Lavrov said Tuesday Moscow was “unhappy” with the current climate in the region, and views US involvement as “worrying.”

“We see the greatest danger in the US position aimed at promoting unilateral approaches, breaking the key international legal basis for resolving the Palestinian problem,” he said in Moscow.

Lavrov added that from “what we hear,” the Trump administration deal will not lead to the creation of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

“To our great regret, the Palestinian split has created pretexts for advancing along the line for breaking the generally accepted foundations of Israeli-Palestinian settlement,” he said at a meeting with representatives of 12 Palestinian factions — including the main ones, Fatah and Hamas — aimed at bridging the gaps between them and moving toward a unified government.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shakes hands with Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad during a meeting with Palestinian officials in Moscow on February 12, 2019. (Kirill KUDRYAVTSEV / AFP)

Trump has long promised to try and reach the so-called “deal of the century” to end the long-simmering Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but his efforts have derailed since his decision to transfer the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has castigated the move, declared the US no longer an honest broker in negotiations, and rejected any plan the White House may come out with, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas calling it the “slap of the century.”

The Trump administration is putting the final touches on the “deal of the century” for the Middle East, but is not expected to publish the proposal until after the Knesset general elections in April.

The plan includes an economic development proposal for Palestinians that foresees major infrastructure and industrial work, particularly in Gaza. For the plan to succeed or even pass the starting gate, it will need at least initial buy-in from both Israel and the Palestinians as well as from the Gulf Arab states, which officials say will be asked to substantially bankroll the economic portion.

The Palestinians have refused to meet with the US to discuss peace overtures since December 2017, when Trump announced the move and declared he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The US has ended millions in aid to the UN’s refugee agency for the Palestinians, and has cut funding for the PA over Abbas’s refusal to enter negotiations and Ramallah’s payments to terror convicts and their families.

The launch of the plan has also reportedly been delayed by Israel’s elections, which will be held on April 9.

AP contributed to this report.

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