SUNDAY,MARCH 24, 2019

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US officials set to visit Middle East to gather support for peace plan

US officials including senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is also US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and US Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt are set to visit five Arab nations in late February, to get support for a US-Middle East peace plan. The officials would make stops at five Arab nations discussing the economic aspect of the plan, to bring peace to Israel and Palestinians. The official stops include - Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Qatar. If need be other stops could be added to the trip.   The peace plan is a means to settle issues between Israel and the Palestinians, who otherwise have been at loggerheads for decades.  The US team is said to discuss only the economic aspect of the plan which deals with aids and public-private investments to help the Palestinian people, and to introduce economic development (via infrastructural and industrial projects), particularly in Gaza. Officials told Reuters that the US team would not discuss the “political component” of the plan with the Arab World.   The success of the proposal significantly depends on the economic support of all parties in the region, as it is a very important part of bringing peace to the nation, which has been torn apart by civil war for decades.   One of the US officials at the press briefing said, “They’re not going to support the economic plan without making sure they also support the political plan, and we recognize that. So, the support, I’m sure in some manner, will be conditioned on whether they are comfortable with the political plan.”   He added, "We really are taking very seriously both aspects of this, the political and the economic ... We understand that if the political aspect of it is not solid, the economic aspect is meaningless. But at the same time the political aspect will not succeed without a proper economic plan."   The White House plans to bring out the peace pact after Israel’s national elections which are due on April 9. The country’s elections will decide the fate of Israeli current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also charged with corruption allegations.   US had planned to initiate the peace plan a few years ago but it got held up after Trump’s administration recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017. It made Palestinians furious and since then none of the Palestinian leaders are ready to be party to any US-led talks.   Trump’s administration is maintaining a positive attitude and believes that the Arab leaders would be able to convince Palestinian leaders (through the economic package) to agree to a deal.