Trump staffs up Mideast team to unveil peace plan

Trump staffs up Mideast team to unveil Israeli-Palestinian peace plan
2 min read
05 August, 2018
The formation of a White house team is the first evidence in months that any US peace plan is advancing.
The Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team. [Getty]

The Trump administration is staffing up a Middle East policy team at the White House in anticipation of unveiling a long awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

The National Security Council (NSC) last week began approaching other agencies to join a team which will work for Trump's Middle East advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, US officials said.

The team will organise the peace plan's presentation and any subsequent negotiations and will comprise a unit on political and security details, another on economic issues, and one on strategic communications.

The formation of a White house team is the first evidence in months that any US peace plan is advancing.

Timing on the release of the plan remains undecided, with different US departments asked to detail personnel to the team for six months to a year, The Associated Press reported.

An NSC official said that Trump's Middle East team is "expanding their team and the resources available as they finalize the details and rollout strategy of the peace initiative."

The Palestinian leadership has been openly hostile to any proposal from the US, which it accuses of pro-Israel bias, notably after Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital and moved the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian Authority has since broken off contact with the US negotiating team.

Earlier this month, the Palestinian envoy to the UN said Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" for Middle East peace was "dead upon arrival" following the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Diplomats in the region say the Trump administration's current blueprint for a peace plan - as conveyed during a tour of officials last month - does not include East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, the right of return for refugees, or a freeze on new Israeli settlements.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration cut funding for UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, by $300 million.

Follow us on Twitter: @The_NewArab