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Abbas to meet Jordan's King Abdullah on 'nearly finished' US peace plan


US peace plan will reportedly trade broad strokes for specific solutions on conflict's most intractable issues

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet Jordan's King Abdullah II in Amman on Monday to discuss US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, which officials in Washington say is nearly ready to be unveiled.

A report by the New York Times on Sunday cited senior US officials as saying that the Trump administration is putting the finishing touches on the plan which will break from the strategies of past administrations by proposing specific solutions as opposed to a broad framework of principles.

The Times cited a Trump aide as likening the plan to the Israeli-developed Waze road navigation software, saying that the plan would help the two sides navigate the most intractable issues of the conflict -- including borders, security, the rights of Palestinian refugees, and the status of Jerusalem -- and lead the two sides to a final destination, that is, the "ultimate deal".

The report said that US officials anticipated that both Israel and the Palestinians would embrace some parts of the plan while rejecting others.

While the officials would not divulge specifics, they revealed that the plan would not call for a two-state solution but would rather provide pathways that would ultimately lead to the creation of two states.

ABBAS MOMANI (AFP/File)

They also said that unlike past proposals, it would not call for a “fair and just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees but would offer solutions for dealing with the issue.

The officials said the most immediate challenge facing the Trump administration with regards to the plan was how to roll it out in a way so it is not rejected out of hand by the Palestinians, who have rejected the US as an appropriate peace broker since Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December.

Abbas' meeting with Abdullah on Monday followed a phone conversation between the two leaders, and will focus on what to expect from the US peace plan.

The Palestinians have been seeking out alternative peace partners to the US since Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move deemed as biased and jeopardizing Washington’s long standing role as impartial mediator in the conflict.

A number of European countries have reportedly been trying to persuade the US to amend aspects of the peace proposal ahead of its unveiling.

Since Trump assumed office, the US’s partnership with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blossomed at the expense of a deteriorating relationship with the Palestinians factions.

MANDEL NGAN (AFP)

Netanyahu, who met Trump at the White House last week in the fifth encounter between the two leaders over the past year, has said that he has not yet seen the hotly anticipated US peace plan.

“We did not see a draft of their peace plan. I cannot say on their behalf whether there is one or not. They will decide when to release it,” he told journalists in a briefing following closed-door talks with Trump.

Netanyahu said that in the "15 minutes" the leaders dedicated to discussing the Palestinians, he told Trump that he "has no desire to govern the Palestinians".

Netanyahu stopped short of backing a two-state solution or Palestinian statehood, saying merely that “the Palestinians should have the power of government, except the power to threaten us.”

“I said that we have no desire to govern the Palestinians, but we have every desire to protect ourselves,” Netanyahu said. “The main thing is that the security control west of the Jordan River remains in our hands, and we cannot see anyone else assuming that responsibility.”

Netanyahu also said that “the evacuation of settlements didn’t come up at all” during the course of their conversations.

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