US Delegation Told Abbas That Settlement Freeze Would Topple Netanyahu's Government

Lucy Bush
August 28, 2017

Trump also faces a range of crises in addition to controversies at home that may make it hard for him to focus on the complexities of a major Israeli-Palestinian peace push.

A senior White House official strongly denied on Saturday a report in Arab newspaper al-Hayat which said that Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel will not be asked to freeze settlement building because that could lead to a breakdown of Benjamin Netanyahu's government. "Both sides agreed to continue with the USA -led conversations as the best way to reach a comprehensive peace deal", according to a statement released by the White House.

But just days earlier, the Palestinian Authority (PA) had said that, behind closed doors, it would also give Kushner a firm ultimatum - deliver Israeli concessions within 45 days, or we "blow up" your peace process.

The report of the planned United States proposal came amid recent signs of disillusionment from Abbas over USA peace efforts. Also, the team will examine economic steps ahead of a potential peace deal. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, along with peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell, met with Abbas on August 24 as part of a trip to the region aimed at looking at trying to renew peace negotiations.

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However, the White House is yet to lay out a framework for negotiations following multiple meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Despite his recent pessimism, Abbas sounded a positive note during his meeting with Kushner. "We know that things are hard and complicated, but nothing is impossible with honest efforts".

Chairman Abbas's spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh, issued his own statement, saying, "President Abbas's meeting with the USA delegation was constructive, deep and positive, and all issues of common interest were seriously addressed". But facing worldwide criticism and pressure, Israel's security cabinet made a decision to remove the metal detectors.

"While Netanyahu keeps putting up obstacles to avoid getting to the negotiating table for fear that his government will collapse, Abbas wants to move forward because he is under growing domestic pressure", he said.

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Al-Quds, al-Ayyam and al-Hayat al-Jadida said Abbas spoke to Jordan's King Abdullah II via a phone call about the outcomes of his meeting with the U.S. delegation that is working to resume negotiations between Palestinians and Israel.

Should Kushner and his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, fail to strong-arm the Israelis back in line, the Palestinians said they would "turn to an alternative plan on which they have been working for the past two years". "We believe that both parties should be able to find a workable solution that works for both of them".

"We highly appreciate President Trump's efforts to strike a historical peace deal، a statement he repeated more than one time during our meetings in Washington، Riyadh and Bethlehem،" Abbas said at the start of his meeting with Kushner، according to the PA's official Wafa news agency.

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