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WASHINGTON – The Trump administration is doubling down on its push for an international humanitarian aid package to the Gaza Strip, hoping that doing so will demonstrate its commitment to the Palestinians and politically pressure the Palestinian Authority to engage with its Mideast peace plan.
According to a report in The Washington Post, Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior adviser leading the Israeli- Palestinian peace effort, and Jason Greenblatt, his special representative for international negotiations, returned from a trip to the region last month convinced that the PA will need a push to return to talks with the Israelis.
Kushner says U.S. peace plan coming soon after Middle East visit, June 24, 2018 (Reuters)
US President Donald Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and announces embassy to relocate
“We definitely have a Gaza focus right now because the situation is the way it is, and we want to try to help,” a senior Trump administration official told the US news outlet. “But it’s not as though we think we need to fix Gaza first before we would air the peace plan.”
Greenblatt, who leads the daily work of the peace team, has focused on the situation in Gaza for months and has tweeted prolifically of the need to wrench control of the coastal strip from Hamas, a terrorist organization that has held the territory for over a decade. The White House held a rare conference on the humanitarian situation in Gaza in the spring that brought leaders of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan and Israel, among others, around the same table.
The Gazan aid push is likely to focus on the Strip’s electrical and water services, and rely on Gulf Cooperation Council money.
But the Trump team has yet to determine how its humanitarian plan might calibrate with the release of its wider outline for Middle East peace. Administration officials simply acknowledge that solving the Gazan crisis is critical to its larger designs.
“We think that the solution under a peace agreement would be a united Gaza and West Bank, under one Palestinian leadership,” the US official said.