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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 13 December 2018

US Middle East peace delegation to arrive next week

Jared Kushner and other Trump officials expected to meet Palestinian president in Ramallah on August 24

A US delegation led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is expected to meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah on August 24, 2017, towards the end of a trip to push forward the Middle East peace process. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo / July 24, 2017
A US delegation led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is expected to meet Palestinian officials in Ramallah on August 24, 2017, towards the end of a trip to push forward the Middle East peace process. Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo / July 24, 2017

A US delegation led by Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will arrive in the Middle East next week and will be meeting Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday following stops in key Gulf states and Jordan.

The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Husam Zomlot, said the US delegation, which will include Jason Greenblatt, Mr Trump's envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell, would arrive in Ramallah on August 24 after visits to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and Jordan.

“The focus of the entire trip is the peace process,” Mr Zomlot told a press briefing. “They want to garner Arab political and financial support for the Palestinians before coming to Ramallah.”

While Washington has not released the delegation's itinerary, Mr Zomlot said they "will meet the Palestinian president and the Palestinian team on the 24th at 7pm in the presidential compound in Ramallah. They will be coming to us from Jordan and Egypt will be the last stop.”

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For the Palestinian side the visit is a “paramount, and crucial cornerstone in our efforts”, the ambassador said. “For the last three months we have done the talking, the microphone was with us, we explained in detail where we see things going, and now it’s time to listen.”

Mr Zomlot said his government is looking “to hear the Trump administration publicly endorse a vision for a solution”.

The Palestinian side is adamant that the “that only final solution is the two states based on 1967 borders”, he said.

“We want crystal clarity from the US before we start journey, on where we are going and how we will get there,” Mr Zomlot said .

He emphasised that a road map that tackled the issue of settlement expansion, the situation in Gaza, and a final destination was a priority for the Palestinian side.

“If we don’t succeed this time, all the options are Armaggedonist,” the ambassador warned. He signalled that the Palestinian authority could go back to the United Nations seeking international legitimacy, or resort to the option of popular resistance.

Mr Zomlot expressed hope in Donald Trump’s approach to the negotiations and what he called the US president's “dismay for the word process”. He also emphasised the Arab Peace Initiative was the only framework that could obtain regional backing.

The initiative was launched by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and adopted at the Arab League summit in Beirut in 2002. It offers Israel recognition from 57 Arab and Muslim states in return for full withdrawal from Arab territories occupied since June 1967.