Washington denied claims that it yielded to Palestinian threats to abandon the US-led peace initiative if their demands are not met.
A senior White House official denied reports that the US had made a commitment to submit a comprehensive diplomatic plan within a four-month time frame to advance the diplomatic process between Israel and the Palestinians, in exchange for a Palestinian commitment to hold back on their threat to take unilateral diplomatic initiatives against Israel.
On Sunday, the Israel Hayom daily quoted a senior Palestinian official who said that such a deal was reached between Jared Kushner, a top adviser to President Donald Trump, and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas during their meeting in Ramallah on Thursday.
The unnamed White House official told Israel Hayom that the report’s “claim is incorrect and that such things were never said.”
However, a senior PLO official again insisted that such a commitment was made by the US, and that “Abu Mazen [Abbas] carries with him Kushner’s commitment to present a diplomatic plan within the next three to four months.”
“It is true we are pessimistic and disappointed by the American administration’s stance, but we have no other diplomatic alternatives,” the Palestinian official told Israel Hayom.
The Palestinians have expressed displeasure and set preconditions, including an ultimatum that unless progress towards a two-state solution is made within 45 days, the Palestinians will consider themselves no longer committed to US mediation. Kushner’s purported overture was supposedly a response to this ultimatum.
Abbas reportedly agreed in principle to Kushner’s request, but asked for Trump’s personal guarantee and commitment to the plan and the two-state vision.
Disappointed Palestinian officials privately gripe that Trump’s team has begun to support Israeli positions and ignore their concerns.
Israel Expresses Optimism
Despite the seeming obstacles, Kushner and Netanyahu both expressed optimism about the possibility of successful negotiations.
Before his meeting with Kushner, Netanyahu spoke optimistically of the road ahead.
“We have a lot of things to talk about, how to advance peace, stability and security in our region, prosperity too,” Netanyahu said, standing alongside Kushner. “I think that all of them are within our reach.”
By: World Israel News Staff
AP contributed to this report.