Abbas slams US peace plan as Kushner starts Middle East tour

DAILY SABAH
Istanbul
Published 26.02.2019 00:07

Ahead of the Middle East tour by Jared Kushner, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed the U.S. peace plan and its attempts to gain regional support from Gulf countries.

Addressing the first Arab League-European Union summit, Abbas urged all parties to hold an international peace conference as well as forming an international multilateral mechanism to bring an end to the Israeli occupation, as reported by Palestinian news agency Wafa. He also called for the implementation of a 2002 Arab peace initiative, which offered full Arab recognition of Israel in return for a withdrawal from territories it captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Donald Trump administration's Middle East plan has not been announced; however, it is likely that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Iran's military activities in the region, primarily in Syria, will be at the center. New investments may be made and economic opportunities may be created, especially for Palestinians. The expected economic incentives will come with the political side of the plan. Jared Kushner, Trump's adviser and son-in-law, said earlier this month that the Trump administration would unveil its much-awaited Middle East "Deal of the Century" after Israeli elections on April 9. Abbas denounced Trump's peace efforts last year as the "slap of the century" as the U.S. recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with the cancellation of hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to the Palestinians, have prompted the Palestinians to cut off ties with the White House.

Kushner started his Middle East tour to promote the economic portion of the peace plan. His visit to Gulf countries will likely focus the anti-Iranian sentiment in the region while making economic offers to help overcome the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Since Trump ascended to the presidential post, his administration has concentrated on Gulf countries for the Middle East plan, as a fresh rapprochement is observed between these countries and Israel. Similar to the U.S., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has launched an initiative to develop positive relations with Gulf countries, especially with Saudi Arabia, as Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is known for his soft stance toward Israel.

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