Four Arab states have backed the US plan for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, regardless of the position of Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, an Israeli newspaper reports.
The Israel Hayom daily interviewed officials from Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan who confirmed to Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump‘s senior adviser and son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, the US envoy to the region, their support for the yet to be announced “deal of the century”.
Kushner and Greenblatt conducted a week-long tour of the Middle East, where they visited Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Qatar and Israel.
The newspaper, which is owned by American billionaire couple Sheldon and Miriam Adelson (who are also supporters of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu), said that the officials interviewed by the daily also expressed their displeasure with Abbas’s insistence on refusing to meet Kushner and Greenblatt.
The PA officials have rejected meeting US officials since the Trump administration controversially recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, accusing Washington of pro-Israeli bias and as unfit to mediate in peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
According to Daniel Siryoti, the Arab affairs commentator for the paper, the leaders of the Arab countries Kushner visited were the ones who advised him give an interview to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds on Sunday, where he sharply criticised Abbas’ ability to make a deal and said that the US plan will be presented with or without his consent.
Siryoti quoted an unnamed senior Egyptian official as saying that the leaders of the Arab countries visited by Kushner and Greenblatt stressed that the official Arab positions conveyed to US officials reflect the “unanimous” positions of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE.
According to the official, the leaders would also not oppose any attempt by Washington to override Abbas’ interests.
“Despite the strategic mistakes made by Abu Mazen (Abbas) and his people,” the Egyptian official said, “Kushner and Greenblatt were told, in no uncertain terms, that the Palestinians deserve an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
“Kushner agreed to the Arab nations’ demand and made it clear during his meetings with [Jordan’s] King Abdullah and [Egyptian] President [Abdel Fattah] el-Sisi that the interests of the Palestinian people will not be harmed if the regional peace plan is introduced without the Palestinian leadership’s cooperation,” he said.
Israel Hayom also quoted a senior Jordanian official, who warned of the Palestinian leadership being rendered “irrelevant with respect to the peace process.”
“Arab states will not be the ones to throw a wrench in the wheels of the peace process, and that Abbas’ continued refusal to work with the Americans will lead to a regional peace plan being launched without him,” the Jordanian official said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Osama Hamdan, member of the Hamas movement’s politburo in Lebanon, said the Arab states are being used by the US to exert pressure on the Palestinian Authority.
“There is an American insistence on not dealing with the Palestinian side in order to create an overwhelming pressure on them internally and through the regional Arab states,” he said.
“This American administration is dealing with the Palestinian issue through partial solutions, because everything it suggests comes from an Israeli perspective.
Hamdan warned that any acceptance of the US peace process plan by a Palestinian top-level official would lead to chaos for the Palestinian population.
“Any Palestinian leader who agrees to engage with the US administration by conceding more on the Palestinian demands will end up facing a crisis with the Palestinian reality on the ground,” he said.