Talk of new Palestine peace process roils the region

  • In a mysterious trip last month, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian President, travelled to Saudi Arabia’s capital for consultations with Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for the peace process. What was said when the doors were closed, however, has since roiled the region.

  • According to Palestinian, Arab and European officials who have heard Mr. Abbas’s version of the conversation, the Crown Prince presented a plan that would be more tilted toward the Israelis than any ever embraced by the U.S. government.

  • The Palestinians would get a state of their own but only non-contiguous parts of the West Bank and only limited sovereignty over their own territory. The vast majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, which most of the world considers illegal, would remain.

  • The Palestinians would not be given East Jerusalem as their capital and there would be no right of return for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

  • The White House on Sunday denied that was its plan, and the Saudi government denied that it supports those positions. However, the account has gained currency with enough players in West Asia to deeply alarm Palestinians and raise suspicions about Mr. Trump’s efforts. On top of that, advisers have said Mr. Trump plans to give a speech on Wednesday in which he would recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

  • Mr. Trump assigned the effort to reach what he calls the “ultimate deal” to his son-in-law, Jared Kuhner, aided by Jason Greenblatt, his top negotiator, and other aides.

  • After nearly a year of listening tours to the region, they are developing a comprehensive plan but have kept details under wraps.

  • Palestinian officials from both Mr. Abbas’s Fatah party and its rival, Hamas, said they had found the plan insulting and unacceptable.

  • Adding to the shock for Palestinians, according to Palestinian officials from Fatah and Hamas, was the claim that Prince Salman had told Mr. Abbas that if he would not accept the terms, he would be pressed to resign to make way for a replacement who would.

  • Mr. Abbas’s spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, dismissed the accounts of the Riyadh meeting. But the main points of the proposal were confirmed by many people briefed on the discussions, including Hassan Yousef, a senior Hamas leader and Ahmad Tibi, a Palestinian member of the Israeli Parliament.


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