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Trump’s Mideast plan starts taking shape

US President Donald Trump’s Middle East team is exploring the possibility of a double-track initiative for Israeli-Palestinian and Middle East regional talks.
U.S. President Donald Trump gives a thumbs-up as he and White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner depart the White House in Washington, U.S., March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque - RTX3155P

A senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official in the know on Israeli-US relations told Al-Monitor that in recent days Israel has been approached by senior officials in the Trump administration about a possible US policy initiative related to the region and to Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking. Trump’s staff is currently preparing his first official visit to Israel (apparently on May 22), yet these preliminary contacts were exploratory in nature. The US officials emphasized to their Israeli counterparts that no decision has been made yet by Trump’s Middle Eastern team and his associates, including secretaries of the State and Defense departments, head of the National Security Council, and advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

According to the Israeli source who spoke on condition of anonymity, the US officials did say expressively that in any case Israeli security interests will be taken care of “as never before.” What concerned the senior Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs official was a request to know Israel’s position on a possible qualified acceptance of parts of the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002. In the Israeli source’s view, this request indicates that the Trump administration has been influenced by Arab interlocutors such as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, King Abdullah II of Jordan and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who all expressed in similar terms that the Arab Peace Initiative is the only possible basis for regional progress on the Palestinian issue.

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