Trump silent on rollout of Mideast peace process

Jordan's King Abdullah II, left, speaks with US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House on June 25, 2018

Washington (AFP) – US President Donald Trump on Monday declined to offer a timetable for announcing his proposed Middle East peace plan, saying only that “progress” had been made in tackling the complex issue. 

Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is also the president’s pointman for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, has just completed a tour of the region with the administration’s special envoy, Jason Greenblatt.

Speaking after a White House meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan, Trump hedged when asked by reporters to give a schedule for rolling out the peace plan Kushner is working on.

“A lot of progress has been made in the Middle East, a lot,” he said.

“It really started with the end of the horrible Iran deal, that deal was a disaster, and things are a lot different since we ended that, a lot different,” he said, before heading off to a photo opportunity with the Jordanian leader.

In an interview with the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, Kushner reiterated the US commitment to relaunching the stalled Middle East peace process, even as he questioned whether Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas could actually reach a deal. 

“To make a deal, both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions,” he said. “I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal.”

Relations between Washington and the Palestinians broke down after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, despite Palestinian claims to the eastern part of the city.

The Palestinian Authority has said the US peace initiative is doomed to fail and can only “further destabilize the region.”