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US officials visiting Mideast to seek backing for peace plan

10 February 2019

In Warsaw, Kushner will be attending a gathering that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said will focus on Middle East stability and efforts to keep Iran from being a destabilizing influence in the region.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and other administration officials are headed to the Middle East later this month to brief diplomats in at least five countries on the economic section of a USA proposal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Trump administration reportedly is holding off on revealing its peace plan until after Israel's national election in April.

Palestinian officials have rejected an offer from the Trump administration to attend a meeting a conference about the Middle East hosted by the USA in Poland next week.

On Thursday, the Palestinian government branded the event an "American conspiracy".

The American team will not discuss with their Arab hosts the "political component" of the Trump peace plan, which, according to administration official, "covers all core issues of the decades-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians".

In a statement Thursday the Palestinian foreign ministry labelled the meeting "an American conspiracy meant to get the participants to adopt the USA views on issues of the region, particularly the Palestine question".

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It said it will not follow any points that come out of the conference and it will continue to maintain its current policy condemning the positions of the United States, which it no longer considers a mediator for peace.

Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas has refused to talk about any peace plan with the United States in the wake of Trump's recognition of Jerusalem, but White House officials hope that will change.

"Their [the Arab countries] support, I'm sure in some manner, will be conditioned on whether they are comfortable with the political plan", the official said.

Israel has occupied the first two territories since the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and maintains a blockade of the Gaza Strip which has been in place since 2007 after Hamas rose to power in the enclave.

The Palestinian foreign ministry also criticised Mr Trump for hailing the U.S. embassy move in his State of the Union address on Tuesday.

The Palestinians have preemptively rejected the Trump proposal, which the president has dubbed the "deal of the century", and have cut off Trump administration officials since December 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

US officials visiting Mideast to seek backing for peace plan