Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and US president Donald Trump in Bethlehem, May 23, 2017. (Flash90) (Flash90)
Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and US president Donald Trump

While Israel has remained open-minded on the US peace efforts, the Palestinians are expressing pessimism and mounting obstacles.   

White House adviser Jared Kushner, son-in-law of President Donald Trump, has headed to Jerusalem with Jason Greenblatt, envoy for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, US deputy national security adviser, where they will meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

The meeting is part of a Mideast tour to press US sponsored Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and includes stops in Gulf countries, Jordan and Egypt. The Americans will also visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Kushner and Greenblatt have visited Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) several times in recent months in an attempt to restart the diplomatic process, which has been dormant since 2014.

Speaking at the beginning of the weekly Cabinet meeting earlier this month, Netanyahu called Kushner and Greenblatt’s visit “an effort to advance the peace process. Of course, we will welcome them as always.”

While Jerusalem has welcomed Washington’s efforts, the Palestinians have expressed pessimism and are mounting obstacles.

AFP quoted Palestinian officials who said on Wednesday that Trump’s team must commit to a two-state solution and oppose Israeli construction in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria before the US peace push can move forward.

Ahmed Majdalani, a senior member of the PLO, which PA leader Mahmoud Abbas heads, told AFP they were demanding “a clear and frank answer on the position of the administration on the two-state solution and settlements”.

“Without a clear American commitment to the two-state solution and stopping settlements and ending the occupation, we don’t expect much from this administration,” he told AFP.

‘Level of Optimism from Palestinians is Zero’

Omar al-Ghoul, a Palestinian political analyst, told AFP there was little optimism from the Palestinian leadership.

“The level of optimism from the Palestinian leadership and people towards the Trump administration is zero,” he said. “There is not a glimmer of hope the administration will change its politics and positions.”

Abbas expressed frustration with the US on Sunday, saying he has met with the American representatives 20 times since Trump took office in January but still had no clear vision of what peace plan they had in mind.

“I don’t understand their conduct toward us, as inside his country the administration is in chaos,” Abbas was quoted as saying.

The Palestinians have also threatened to resume unilateral initiatives in the international arena if their demands are not met.

The Palestinians have reportedly decided to present Trump’s envoys with an ultimatum at their upcoming meeting with Abbas, which states that unless progress is made within 45 days on launching talks with the Israelis, the Palestinians will consider themselves no longer committed to the US mediation and will turn to an alternative plan to push for unilateral United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state.

No major breakthroughs are expected in the coming round of discussions.

By: United with Israel Staff

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