Mahmoud Abbas (L) with Vladimir Putin in 2018. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/TASS via Getty Images
Officials from the U.S., Russia, EU and UN will hold a video-conference today to discuss the possibility of an international meeting to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Western diplomats tell me.
Why it matters: The meeting comes amid escalating tensions, with Israel threatening to move forward with annexations in the West Bank and Palestinian leaders announcing the suspension of all agreements with Israel and the U.S., including on security coordination.
The backstory: Russia has been working, with the support of the UN and the EU, to facilitate an international meeting that would include several countries in addition to the U.S. and the Palestinians.
- Western diplomats think such a meeting could provide a path to a new political process that slows or stops Israel's moves toward annexation.
- Contacts between the U.S. and the Palestinians have been frozen for 2.5 years, since Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem.
- Israel's new government, meanwhile, wants to take up the annexation issue within months.
The latest: Palestinian newspaper “Al-Ayyam” reports that UN Secretary General António Guterres called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday evening to discuss the possibility of a ministerial-level meeting, to be held under UN auspices.
- Guterres said the meeting would include ministers from the U.S., Russia, EU, UN and several Arab states, and asked if the Palestinians would be willing to attend.
- Abbas said the Palestinians would not agree to such a meeting if it was held on the basis of President Trump's peace plan, which the Palestinians emphatically reject.
- That will likely be a sticking point with the White House, which wants any meeting to take place around Trump's plan.
Today's conference call will focus on the possibility of putting the meeting together. The U.S. will be represented on the call by White House special envoy Avi Berkowitz.