WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday that "a lot of progress has been made in the Middle East" in recent weeks, referring to his administration's work on an upcoming plan for Middle East peace. Trump made the comment during a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah, who is visiting the White House in a last-ditch attempt to influence the contents of the peace plan.
Trump added that the progress "started with the end of the Iran deal," from which the United States withdrew last month. Trump didn't provide more details on the issues. His administration is expected to release its plan for Middle East peace within the coming weeks. Palestinian officials have accused the administration of being one-sided and fully endorsing Israel's positions.
Abdullah thanked Trump for his support, adding: "If the rest of the world just took a little bit of your humility and your grace, we'd be in a lot better position." Trump responded by saying, "remember he uses the word humility with respect to me. That's probably the nicest compliment I've been given in a long time."
Last week, Abdullah hosted Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, in Amman for talks on the same subject. Abdullah also met last week with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss the contents of the plan, which could be presented within weeks.
The Jordanian King has urged the Trump administration for more than a year now to endorse a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and to clearly offer a Palestinian state as part of its peace plan. So far, however, the administration has not endorsed such a position, and it's still not clear if Palestinian independence will be part of Trump's plan. Trump has stated in the past that he will support a two-state solution "if both sides support it."
In his meeting last week with Kushner and with Trump's special envoy to the peace process, Jason Greenblatt, Abdullah repeated Jordan's commitment to a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders. He told the American representatives that such a plan constitutes the only viable way to reach peace in the region. Kushner later said in an interview to Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds that a similar position was repeated by all the Arab leaders that he and Greenblatt met during their trip to the region last week.
Abdullah has been in Washington since Friday, and has also met with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin. Apart from the peace process, his visit is also focused on Jordan's economic and political sitaution, which has stabilized after a massive wave of demonstrations that rocked the kingdom earlier this month.
Trump's peace plan could present new challenges for Jordan, where a majority of the population is of Palestinian origin. Jordan is concerned that the plan won't include the establishment of a Palestinian state, and won't include a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue apart from investing money in the Arab states that host those refugees and their descendants. In addition, Jordan is concerned that the plan could hurt its standing in the Arab world as custodian of the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, by offering more involvement in those sites to other Arab countries.
The Trump administration has so far denied numerous reports about the contents of the plan, insisting that only a small number of officials are aware of what is actually included. In his interview with Al-Quds this weekend, Kushner stated that the plan will be presented "soon," adding that "we're close to finishing." He refused, however, to share any specific details, and said only that the plan would be "fair" and would offer ways to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
At the beginning of the Trump administration, Abdullah was credited in some press reports with convincing Trump to hold back on moving the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as Trump had promised to do during the presidential election. However, last winter, when it became apperant that Trump could follow through on that promise, the Jordanian King arrived on short notice to Washington in an attempt to stop the decision - and failed to sway Trump's opinion. It's not clear if his visit on Monday would have any influence on the peace plan.
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