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Senior White House Official Reveals What 'Ultimate' Middle East Peace Deal Includes

01-23-2018
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WASHINGTON – A senior White House official, traveling with Vice President Mike Pence in the Middle East, revealed what an "ultimate" peace deal brokered by the Trump administration would look like.

The official told reporters the Trump administration is working on a peace plan that will "spill over into the broader region and benefit Jordan, benefit Egypt, and will also create ties… between the region and Israel."

"If we are lucky enough to achieve the ultimate deal, the ultimate deal would be one in which Israel and all of its neighbors have a deep, close and effective relationship," the official said.

That would include Saudi Arabia. "We would really like to include the broader region in a plan that calms things down generally in the region," the official said.

The official also said the move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel was not intended to get a concession out of Israel or meant to be a negotiating tactic in the peace process

"The president made a commitment during the campaign to do it. He also views this as recognizing the truth. We believe peace can only be built on truth," the official told reporters.

Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the two Trump administration officials working on a peace deal, haven't spoken to Palestinian leadership since before Trump's December announcement on Jerusalem.

However, U.S. officials have met with Palestinians in the West Bank (biblical Judea and Samaria), Gaza and with Palestinian Americans.

"They all want to continue to talk, but they're all afraid to talk so they're asking… for quiet meetings, private meetings," the official said.

In a wide-ranging speech to members of Israel's Knesset Monday, Vice President Pence announced the U.S. will move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem before the end of next year.

That outraged Arab lawmakers who voiced their displeasure by raising signs that read, "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine," and heckling the vice president. They were forcibly removed from the Knesset chamber.

Palestinians have refused to meet with Pence during his trip to the Middle East. To exaggerate the snub, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas flew to Brussels to meet with European Union foreign ministers to urge them to recognize a state of Palestine and step up involvement in mediation.

"There isn't a single European country or other country we've spoken to since the Dec. 6 announcement that in any way, shape or form believes a U.S.-led process should be replaced. They all want to work with the U.S. despite Palestinian reaction," the senior White House official said.

The official added it's "unfortunate that the president has so many times reached out to explain how dedicated he is to helping the Palestinian people," yet a "disconnect" continues to exist the official continued.

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