US PRESIDENT Donald Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is “discouraging” any further action on a controversial Israeli bill regarding the status of greater Jerusalem, fearing it would harm its peace effort toward a comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian settlement, a senior administration official told The Jerusalem Post on Sunday.
“It’s fair to say that the US is discouraging actions that it believes will unduly distract the principals from focusing on the advancement of peace negotiations,” the official said. “The Jerusalem expansion bill was considered by the Administration to be one of those actions.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delayed an initial vote planned for Sunday on the measure, which would have annexed 19 Israeli settlements around the capital city.
US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, is in the region to discuss the peace process with leaders there. His meeting with Netanyahu was a “general check-in on peace conversations,” the official said.
“They did not meet to discuss the annexation bill.”
Several administration officials have engaged Arab governments in recent weeks on their potential role in brokering peace, building out the president’s plan to link a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian question with a broader regional peace.
To that end, officials have recently visited Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss the matter, a senior administration official said.
Additional visits are planned in the coming weeks, although the White House is not previewing any pending breakthroughs.
“While these regional talks will play an important role, the president reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties, and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress toward that goal,” the senior official said. “No deal will be imposed on Israelis and Palestinians; we are committed to facilitating a deal that improves conditions for both parties.”