The Trump administration is exploring new approaches for easing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that build on talks with a budding Sunni Arab coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

Could this be a game-changer for Middle East peace?

Editorial

Washington Post

August 24, 2017

The Trump administration is exploring new approaches for easing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that build on talks with a budding Sunni Arab coalition of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan.

Jared Kushner, the White House senior adviser and presidential son-in-law, visited the leaders of all four countries during his Middle East trip this week. He was accompanied by special envoy Jason D. Greenblatt and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell. The group came away hopeful that the new generation of Arab leaders is a potential game-changer, said a senior administration official.

Prince Khaled bin Salman, the Saudi ambassador to Washington, gave an upbeat account of the talks with Kushner. He said that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, his older brother, is optimistic in light of the commitment of Donald Trump to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

A first step in the new Palestinian strategy involves Gaza, which, under Hamas, has been Israel's most implacable adversary.

The goal is to broker a reunification of Gaza with the Palestinian Authority, under the leadership of President Mahmoud Abbas, so that a united PA could represent all Palestinians.

The Trump administration seems to envision an outside-in strategy for breaking the Palestinian-Israeli stalemate. The United States, it's hoped, could eventually bring together Israelis and leaders of the major Arab states for a peace conference. Trump's unusually close relations with both Israel and the Gulf Arabs are part of this strategy.

The Gaza opening by the moderate Arabs is an unlikely offshoot of their bitter feud with Qatar, Turkey and other nations that support the Muslim Brotherhood militants who have long dominated Hamas.

Beyond the machinations in Gaza is a larger vision for restarting a Palestinian peace process drawing on the alliance of moderate Sunni leaders.

MBS, as the Saudi crown prince is known, has made some brash moves that have caused him trouble, including the war in Yemen. But he's willing to take risks on the reform side, too, including challenging the kingdom's religious establishment.

This young, dynamic leadership presents opportunities that may not have existed before, said Yousef al-Otaiba, the UAE ambassador to Washington. The White House clearly shares that view.

The opportunities for trade, investment and security cooperation between Israel and the Arabs have never been greater.

Source: White House

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