Senior White House official denies report of Trump summit with Arab leaders

A source in Washington said that Netanyahu will not attend the summit because it will make it harder for Arab leaders to join.

By OMRI NAHMIAS,
July 31, 2019 19:28
3 minute read.
Mahmoud Abbas (L), Jared Kushner (C) and Benjamin Netanyahu (R)

Mahmoud Abbas (L), Jared Kushner (C) and Benjamin Netanyahu (R). (photo credit: REUTERS & MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

No summit with Arab leaders is currently being planned by Washington, a senior White House official said on Wednesday in reaction to a report that US President Donald Trump was planning just such a summit at Camp David sometime before the September 17 election.


“No summit has currently been planned," said the official. "The Middle East team will report back to the president, the vice president, the secretary of state and the National Security Council upon returning to discuss the many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop.”
Kushner is in the region, leading a US delegation to the Middle East to finalize details of a proposed $50 billion economic development plan for the Palestinians, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon, an administration official said on Sunday. He and his team are scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday night.


Kushner’s arrival came on the same day that the Hebrew daily Yediot Ahronot published a report claiming that the Trump administration will host an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at Camp David before Israel’s September elections. Kushner is  is planning to personally invite the Arab leaders during his trip to the Middle East. 


At the summit, Trump is expected to lay out his vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in general terms, the Yediot report said. 


Netanyahu and Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer were reportedly involved in planning the summit. Dermer reportedly flew to Israel to discuss it with Netanyahu. However, a source in Washington told Yediot that Netanyahu will not attend the summit because it will make it harder for Arab leaders to participate. 


Though details of what will be discussed at the summit remain unclear, it was reported that Trump will speak not about a Palestinian state but an entity and that he will refer to an Arab presence in East Jerusalem, but not about it serving as a capital for a future Palestinian state. This would allow Netanyahu to commend the US president for his efforts but also express some reservations. 


The Palestinians are expected to reject the plan immediately. However, the mere presence of Arab leaders at the summit would be considered an "election gift" for Netanyahu, wrote Yediot, and could potentially help him negotiate a unity government with Blue and White after the Sept. 17 election.


On Wednesday night, Kushner arrived in Israel via Amman, where he held talks with Jordan's King Abdullah II about economic plan and the "Deal of the Century," said an administration, official who was quoted by the Arabic news outlet Al Arabiya.


Abdullah reportedly met Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al-Sissi and UAE Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed ahead of his meeting with Kushner. 


The meeting was attended by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Ayman Safadi, the King's Advisor for Communication and Coordination, Dr. Bishar Al-Khasawneh, and US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, along with US Special Representative on Iran Brian Hook and Kushner aide Avi Berkowitz.


During his meeting with Kushner, the king stressed that what is needed is a "just, lasting and comprehensive peace on the basis of a two-state solution that guarantees the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the lines of June 4, 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital, to live in peace and security alongside Israel," according to the official Jordan News Agency. 


The deal would need to be "in accordance with the Arab peace initiative and relevant international resolutions,” he continued.


The American delegation will continue its mission with visits to Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, according to Al Arabiya.


Tzvi Joffre contributed to this report.


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