WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace team briefed members of the UN Security Council Tuesday on their plan to jump-start negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.Two sources familiar with the briefing tell The Jerusalem Post that Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law leading the diplomatic effort; Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations; and Nikki Haley, US envoy to the UN, fielded questions from diplomats for roughly an hour after a public session of the council concluded.The briefing by senior Trump administration officials followed a speech to the council by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who asked UN members to come up with an international mechanism that would replace any US-led peace effort.
Kushner, Greenblatt and Haley – who sat in attendance for Abbas’s speech – dismissed that proposal in the briefing, the sources said, noting that it would take perhaps a year to organize yet another conference on Middle East peace bound to fail. Instead they plan on rolling out their peace plan in short time, they added, while declining to specify their time frame.According to the diplomatic sources, Kushner and Greenblatt said of the plan that “both sides are going to love some of it, and hate some of it.”The US team underscored its belief that Israeli settlement activity is unhelpful to the pursuit of peace, but told council members that past US demands for freezes had proven counterproductive. They declined to say whether such a demand would be included in their forthcoming plan.Kushner and Greenblatt have been working on a plan to get both sides to the negotiating table for more than a year. But Trump’s decision in December to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and to move the US Embassy there, infuriated the Palestinians and led them to write off the administration as a fair arbiter.
Abbas slams Trump on Jerusalem, calls for peace conference, February 20, 2018 (Reuters)