Abbas and Trump
Abbas and Trump Reuters

During his meeting with PA Chairman Abbas in Bethlehem earlier this week, US President Trump reportedly touched on his plans for peace in the Middle East.

According to a senior Palestinian official who spoke with Israel Hayom, Trump proposed at the meeting a regional plan based on the Arab Peace Initiative, but with a certain alterations.

The Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 stipulates that 22 Arab countries will normalize ties with Israel on the condition that Israel withdraws from Judea and Samaria. The initiative also calls for the so-called “right of return” for Arabs who fled Israel during the War of Independence and their descendants.

According to the official, Trump proposed that steps be taken towards a normalization of relations between Israel and Arab countries first, and only afterward efforts in the Israeli-Palestinian Arab peace process be undertaken.

“Until now, what hindered progress in the advance of the Arab Peace Initiative was the failure of negotiations with Israel,” the official said. “President Trump is interested in advancing a different thought process within the framework of the deal between Israel and the Palestinians that he’s talking about.”

“The American president emphasized in his talk with Abbas that there is, in principle, agreement in Riyadh and other moderate Arab countries to give an opportunity for the possibility of the new framework that the president is proposing to succeed, and that maybe a process like this of switching the order - normalization of relations between Israel and moderate Arab countries first and only afterward a peace process in whose framework a solution to the Palestinian issue will be advanced - could work, and could bring the sides to initiate a process set according to a pre-determined timeline. Within the framework of such a process a solution to the Palestinian issue would be obtained, including the establishment of a Palestinian state recognized by Israel, as well as a declaration from the sides that the disagreement is over and there are no more claims.”

The official also said that the “normalization of relations” between Israel and Arab countries which Trump proposed as an initial step would only include declarative steps such as recognizing Israel’s right to exist, and would not include a normalization of relations to the point of signed peace agreements and the establishment of respective embassies in Israel and Arab countries.

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