White House Pushes Ahead With Mideast Peace Plan

WASHINGTON (AP) -

The Trump administration is aiming to roll out its much-hyped but long-delayed Middle East peace plan next month.

Five U.S. officials and a congressional aide say the administration intends to release the peace plan in mid to late June, shortly after the end of the Muslim month of Ramadan, although they cautioned that the timing could slip depending on developments in the region. They say the plan’s main authors – President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Trump’s special envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt – have already begun quietly briefing select allies and partners on elements of the proposal.

The administration has been resisting congressional demands to fully close the Palestine Liberation Organization office in Washington because Greenblatt and Kushner want to keep that channel open in case the Palestinians are open to re-entering negotiations with Israel based on the plan. Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson demanded closure of the office last November, but it has been allowed to stay open for limited purposes under the administration’s interpretation of the law that requires it to be shut down in the absence of peace talks.

The prospect of Palestinian interest in the peace proposal appears dim, however, particularly since Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas recalled the mission’s chief last week in protest to the opening of the new U.S. Embassy in Yerushalayim.