Pompeo: Middle East peace plan could be unveiled in 'weeks'

Resignation of President Trump's Middle East adviser Jason Greenblatt had raised fears of further delay

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US Middle East Peace would be a 'basis from which to move forward'. AFP
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the US Middle East Peace would be a 'basis from which to move forward'. AFP

The long-awaited US plan for Middle peace will be unveiled within weeks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, contrary to expectations that it could be delayed after one of its architects resigned last week.

President Donald Trump's administration pushed back the unveiling of the plan earlier this year after Israel unexpectedly headed back to new elections to be held September 17. Fresh questions arose on Thursday when Jason Greenblatt, Mr Trump's Middle East adviser, resigned.

But Mr Pompeo dismissed speculation of a substantial new delay.

"We've been consulting broadly throughout the region for two and a half years now and I think in the coming weeks we'll announce our vision," Mr Pompeo said during a visit to his home state of Kansas.

"And hopefully the world... will see that as a building block, a basis on which to move forward," he said.

He said Middle East peace was "a difficult problem, one that ultimately those two peoples will have to resolve for themselves, but we've worked hard on that".

The Palestinian Authority has cut off formal contact with the Trump administration, saying it was not an honest broker after taking a series of pro-Israel decisions such as recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The administration has started to describe its upcoming proposal as a "vision" rather than a plan, leading observers to wonder whether Washington will offer more of a statement of principles rather than seek to broker a major agreement.

Mr Trump's adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, the pother architect of the plan, launched the administration's peace initiative in June with a conference in Bahrain to attract $50 billion worth of in investment in the region once the Palestinians agreed to a political deal.

The Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference, accusing the Trump administration of ignoring key political issues and trying to buy its acceptance of Israeli rule.

Mr Kushner has repeatedly said that the other, political component of the peace plan would follow.

Meanwhile, Israeli-Palestinian violence across the Israel-Gaza border claimed two lives since Friday.

Israeli aircraft and tanks struck a number of Hamas military targets in response to rockets fired from the Palestinian enclave, the military said on Saturday.

The exchange came after two Palestinian teenagers were killed by Israeli fire during the weekly Palestinian protests on the Gaza border on Friday.

Later on Saturday, a drone launched from southern Gaza crossed into Israeli airspace, the army said, and "dropped what seems to be an explosive device" near the security fence, damaging a military vehicle before returning to Gaza.

In response, an Israeli aircraft targeted the squad which launched the drone, the army said.

Updated: September 8, 2019 07:25 AM


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