US officials visiting Mideast to seek backing for peace plan

White House adviser Jared Kushner attends a meeting with President Donald Trump and Hispanic pastors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington Friday Jan. 25 2019

White House adviser Jared Kushner attends a meeting with President Donald Trump and Hispanic pastors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington Friday Jan. 25 2019

"We would not be taking this trip if we were not serious about a launch in the coming months", said one senior White House official, who was granted anonymity to share details of the yet-unannounced trip.

Among those expected to attend are Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as US President Donald Trump senior advisors Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, as well as Pompeo. It will last for a week, during which the delegation will visit Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

"On his trip to the Middle East, Kushner is expected to discuss with Arab officials the economic parts of the peace plan, which will entail huge investment in the Palestinian economy-mainly in Gaza", reported Axios.

'As noted we have asked the Palestinian Authority to send representatives to this event, ' the USA official said. The economic plan is widely expected to include global funding proposals for the impoverished Gaza Strip.

The newspaper added that the visit "will focus only on the economic issues, according to the White House, and not on the political, diplomatic and security aspects of the plan".

"They're not going to support the economic plan without making sure they also support the political plan, and we recognise that".

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Through the visits, the USA hopes to gather support and build a diplomatic strategy for the peace plan, set to be unveiled after the April 9 parliamentary elections in Israel.

The Palestinian foreign ministry said the conference is aimed at pushing its participants to adopt American positions.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has called on the United States to reverse its recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and cuts in aid to the Palestinians, saying these had undermined efforts to reach a two-state solution to the longstanding conflict.

The Palestinian Authority has castigated the move, declared the U.S. no longer an honest broker in negotiations, and rejected any plan the White House may come out with, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas calling it the "slap of the century".

According to rumors, the new peace plan includes handing the new PA government-whether as a fully realized state or something less than that-the eastern part of Jerusalem to be turned into its future capital.

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