‘US mulls hosting summit between Persian Gulf Arab leaders, Israel’

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Washington: The administration of US President Donald Trump is considering hosting a conference that would bring together Persian Gulf Arab leaders and Israelis for the first time, a report says.

Israeli sources, who requested anonymity, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that US officials were quietly assessing potential interests in holding such a conference, which seems to be aimed at jump-starting the so-called peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The president wants to bring them over – a public event with them,” a senior Israeli source said. “I think it’s feasible, but the question is what happens after.”

The Israeli official predicted that the Arab representatives would attend such a conference only if Israel implemented an unofficial freeze on future construction outside the existing settlement blocs.

The proposed conference, which would convene most probably this summer, would bring together the Saudi leadership at the crown prince level, other Persian Gulf Arab leaders and their Egyptian and Jordanian counterparts, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Meanwhile, reports said that Arab world leaders were slated to meet in Washington in April and May to lay the groundwork for the conference.

‘Summit not on the agenda yet’

However, one senior Trump administration official said the US was not working toward a specific event.

“The administration is concentrating on building relationships with parties in the region,” the official said, adding, “We’re just not contemplating such a conference at this time.”

The last round of the so-called peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians collapsed in April 2014. Tel Aviv’s settlement activities were among major reasons behind the failure of the talks.

Israeli settlements are considered illegal under international law as they are built on the occupied territories.      

In February, Trump spoke of a “much bigger deal,” suggesting that he was ready to abandon decades of American policy in favor of a “two-state solution.”

“Looking at two-state or one-state, I like the one that both parties like. I’m very happy with the one both parties like. I can live with either one,” he said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu in Washington.

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