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US keeping its Mideast peace plan secret to protect it, envoy says

Jared Kushner, senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Donald Trump, sits in the audience during a roundtable discussion with Trump and border enforcement officials about issues on the U.S.-Mexican border at the Border Patrol Station in Calexico, Calif., on Friday, April 5, 2019. (Hayne Palmour IV/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS)

The Trump administration hasn’t revealed the full details of its Middle East peace plan in order to prevent “spoilers” from undermining it, U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt said days after a U.S.-backed economic conference in Bahrain sought to drum up support for American peace efforts.

“We understand we’re protecting something extremely delicate,” Greenblatt said at the IDC Herzliya Conference in Israel on Monday. “We understand that there are a lot of spoilers out there. If we start to reveal details of the plan, anyone, group or person who is against a particular part of the plan will start to undermine our efforts.”

More than two years after President Donald Trump picked his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to create the “deal of the century” by brokering Middle East peace, few concrete details of the plan have emerged. Kushner promoted the economic component of his proposal in Bahrain last week, but the event was deliberately short on key political questions, and the conference didn’t include Palestinian officials.

At the conference, Kushner called for about $50 billion in proposed investments in the Palestinian territories and neighboring countries that host refugees, but didn’t say who would administer the funds or where they would come from.

The U.S. is expected to release the political details behind the peace plan — the far more sensitive part of the equation — later this year, after Israeli elections in September.

When the administration does release the details of the political plan, it’s “fully prepared” to defend it and “defend why we chose to recommend what we’re recommending,” Greenblatt said.

Palestinian leaders spurned Kushner’s economic vision as an effort to bribe them into accepting an eventual Trump plan that will favor Israel, and Kushner said Palestinian leaders discouraged all but a small contingent of Palestinian entrepreneurs and investors from attending the Bahrain conference.

“It was unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority chose not only to boycott the workshop but to try to get others not to come to the workshop,” Greenblatt said. “In the end, almost everybody came, and we had a very lively discussion about an economic vision, which is one part of our complete vision.”


© 2019 Bloomberg News

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