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US rejects reports that Trump thinking to drop plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

June 28, 2017 11:16 P.M. (Updated: July 6, 2017 8:36 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) -- The American government denied on Tuesday reports that US President Donald Trump was considering ceasing to push for a deal to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

London-based Arabic daily al-Hayat reported on Saturday that Trump was weighing whether or not to pull out of peace negotiations, adding that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was left “furious” by a recent meeting with Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and US international negotiator Jason Greenblatt.

However, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert was quoted by Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Wednesday as saying that the reports were “just false,” adding that the US government was “not pulling out in any way, shape, or form.”

"We understand and recognize that this is not going to be a one-shot deal. It’s not going to be handled in one meeting or one trip," Nauert said. “It is no surprise also that some meetings and conversations may be a little bit more difficult than others. Some will be more challenging.”

However, she added, Trump “has made Israeli-Palestinian peace one of his top priorities.”

Abbas reportedly accused Kushner and Greenblatt of taking Israel's side by relaying Israeli demands that the Palestinian Authority (PA) stop paying compensation to the families of Palestinian prisoners, claiming that Israel was using the issue as a pretext to avoid peace talks.

The Americans had supposedly first called for all payments made to the families of Palestinians prisoners to be halted altogether, with American officials reportedly describing the payments “as a means of inciting terror.”

However, the Times of Israel reported after the meeting that the new, "watered down" demands requested that the PA stop paying compensation to the families of some 600 Palestinian prisoners serving life sentences and who are responsible for the deaths of Israelis.

Trump has repeatedly said peace between Israelis and Palestinians was something he could achieve as president. “I want to see peace with Israel and the Palestinians,” Trump said in April. "There is no reason there’s not peace between Israel and the Palestinians -- none whatsoever.”

After meeting with Abbas last month, Trump said finding a peace agreement would be easier than expected.

"Let's see if we can find the solution,” Trump said during a luncheon with Abbas and his advisers. “It's something that, I think, is, frankly, maybe not as difficult as people have thought over the years.”

While Trump has maintained on many occasions that, under his auspices, the decades-long Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be solved, his administration has painted a rather unclear picture regarding Trump’s plans in the region, while a number of high-profile US officials, including Kushner, are known to be staunch supporters of Israel.
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