WASHINGTON – The Trump administration’s team working on the Middle East peace plan began a round of meetings on Monday focused on the plan’s economic aspects in the region.
Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special envoy to the region, met in the United Arab Emirates with the country’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Zayed. They were also joined by Brian Hook, a State Department official in charge of Iran policy.
According to a White House statement, the meeting focused on the administration’s “efforts to facilitate” an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord and broader economic measures that could improve the reality in the Middle East. Hours after that meeting, Kushner, Greenblatt and Hook continued to Oman, where they met with Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said. That meeting focused on the same issues as the one with UAE Crown Prince Mohammed.
The UAE shares Israel’s views regarding Iran, which both countries consider the greatest security threat in the region. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously met with the country’s foreign minister. Oman is friendlier to Iran and has expressed interest in the past in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians. Oman hosted Netanyahu for a rare visit last year.
The U.S. administration is preparing to release its peace plan after the Israeli election on April 9. The Palestinian Authority views the peace team, which also includes U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as tilted toward Israeli positions. Ramallah has refused to engage with the plan since December 2017, when Trump announced he would transfer the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move he later said “took Jerusalem off the table.”
During the American team’s visit to the UAE, Kushner gave a television interview to Sky News Arabia – the first time he has given such an interview to an international station. Kushner told the channel one of the peace team’s main achievements has been its ability to keep the plan a secret, without any leaks about the contents.
Kushner said the White House would like to see a unified Palestinian government, instead of the current situation in which Gaza and the West Bank are separated from one another.
"We want to see Palestinians under one leadership that will allow them to live in dignity," Kushner told Sky News Arabia, adding, "We are trying to come up with realistic solutions that are relevant to the year 2019."
One of the main principles of the plan is freedom, including freedom of opportunity and religion, Kushner said. He added that the aim is to eliminate the borders as they are today, "in order to guarantee freedom of movement for people and goods."
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