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Trump team keeps Middle East peace plan secret

Credit: Reuters - Politics
Published on April 11, 2019 - Duration: 02:13s

Trump team keeps Middle East peace plan secret

In a White House where no secret is safe for long, one development has remained stubbornly confidential - the contents of a Middle East peace plan authored by President Donald Trump’s advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

Zachary Goelman reports.

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Trump team keeps Middle East peace plan secret

U.S. President Donald Trump greeted the re-election of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with optimism, saying it improved the chances for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "I think we have a chance, and I think we have now a better chance with Bibi having won." The White House has been promising a peace plan for two years, which could be unveiled soon.

But very few people have seen a draft of the proposal.

That's because the authors, namely Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, have gone to extraordinary lengths to keep it confidential in an administration characterized by leaks.

White House correspondent Steve Holland.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) REUTERS WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT STEVE HOLLAND, SAYING: "The principal people who have access to it are Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, who is a former lawyer to the president and is currently a White House senior adviser, the U.S. ambassador to Israel David Freidman, and one of Kushner's deputy Avi Berkowitz.

The reason for the secrecy is they don't want little parts of it to get out in the Middle East, and governments start critiquing little piece of it, instead of the document as a whole.

They'd rather people take a look at the document on its own merits once they decide to put it out." (SOUNDBITE) (English) WHITE HOUSE SENIOR ADVISER JARED KUSHNER, SAYING (FEBRUARY 25, 2019) (SKY NEWS ARABIA - MANDATORY ON-SCREEN CREDIT SKY NEWS ARABIA): "Hopefully if we can resolve this issue, we will be able to see a lot more opportunity for the Palestinian people, for the Israeli people, and for the people throughout the region." Kushner met with officials in Israel, the Palestinian territories, and the Arab Gulf States earlier this year, soliciting input but offering little insight into his proposal.

And this opacity is viewed by many through the lens of the Trump administration's unabashedly pro-Israel stance.

The White House moved its embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, and cut international aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU SAYING: "Israel has been blessed to have many friends who sat in the Oval Office, but Israel has never had a better friend than you." It's unknown whether the Kushner plan will call for an independent Palestinian state, a core Arab demand.

A senior White House official says Trump has been briefed on Kushner's plan, but is not believed to have read the entire proposal.

He's repeatedly told Kushner's team, "if you guys can get this done you’re going to be the greatest negotiators in history."

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