Trump setting up policy team for peace plan

Officials say Trump administration staffing up a Middle East policy team in anticipation of unveiling its peace plan.

Elad Benari,

Donald Trump
Donald Trump
Reuters

The Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling its long awaited but largely mysterious Israeli-Palestinian Authority (PA) peace plan, U.S. officials said Thursday, according to The Associated Press.

The National Security Council last week began approaching other agencies seeking volunteers to join the team, which will work for President Donald Trump's Mideast peace pointmen Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, according to the officials.

The team, which is being set up to organize the peace plan's public presentation and any negotiations that may ensue, will comprise three units: one concentrating on its political and security details, one on its significant economic focus and one on strategic communications, the officials said.

The creation of a White House team is the first evidence in months that a plan is advancing. Trump officials have long promised the most comprehensive package ever put forward toward resolving the conflict, but no official details about the plan have been made public.

Timing on the release of the plan remains undecided. The State Department, Pentagon, intelligence agencies and Congress have been asked to detail personnel to the team for six months to a year, according to the officials, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

The agencies declined to comment but an NSC official said that Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Greenblatt, Trump's special envoy for international negotiations, "are expanding their team and the resources available as they finalize the details and rollout strategy of the peace initiative."

The plan has thus far been met with resistance from PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas and his aides, who have refused to engage with the U.S. in protest over Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem of Israel’s capital and his relocating the U.S. embassy to the city.

The officials said there will never be a perfect time for the roll-out, but that they are laying the groundwork now for when an opportune time becomes apparent. The plan is not done, but is being finalized, including an economic development proposal for the Palestinian people that foresees major infrastructure and industrial work, particularly in Gaza.

Trump recently declined to offer a timetable for announcing his proposed Middle East peace plan, saying only that "progress" had been made in tackling the complex issue.

"A lot of progress has been made in the Middle East, a lot," he said in late June after a meeting at the White House with King Abdullah II of Jordan.

Previous reports said the Trump administration is trying to convince Arab monarchies in the Gulf to invest hundreds of millions of dollars in economic projects in Gaza, in an attempt to calm the security situation in the coastal enclave and generate momentum before the White House presents its Middle East peace plan.


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