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Jared Kushner and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah last year. Photo: Palestinian Presidency/Handout/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas told a group of Israeli legislators who met him today in his office in Ramallah that President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner and U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt asked him in one of their meetings if he supports forming a Palestinian-Jordanian confederacy as part of a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Why it matters: Most of the details about the talks Kushner and Greenblatt had with the Israelis and the Palestinians over the last 18 months regarding their peace plan have never leaked. This is the first time any of the players in the region has mentioned that the U.S. has explored the possibility of a Palestinian-Jordanian confederacy. This idea hasn't been on the table in Middle East peace talks in the last 25 years.

  • Two people who attended the meeting and took notes told me Abbas said he told Kushner and Greenblatt he would agree to a trilateral confederacy comprised of Israel, Jordan and Palestine. "I asked them if the Israelis would agree to such a confederacy but they said they didn't know," Abbas told the Israeli members of Knesset in the meeting today.

More details from the meeting, according to the two people who attended:

  • Abbas said that in all four of his meetings with Trump, the president had told him he supports a two-state solution. Abbas said he thinks Trump might have changed his mind about this.
  • Abbas also said the current U.S. policy is hostile towards the Palestinians and closes any possibility to make progress in the peace process. He stressed that he is against the upcoming White House peace plan.
  • Abbas criticized the Trump administration's decision to stop funding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), and called the move disappointing and dangerous, adding that he has always said that the return of millions of Palestinian refugees will destroy Israel and he does not want to destroy Israel but live side-by-side with it. Abbas said a formula can be found that will not harm Israel but will give provide solution for the refugees. "The Arab peace initiative talks about an agreed upon solution to the refugee issue," he said.

From the White House: Greenblatt said, ‎"Over the past 19 months we have probed all relevant parties about many ideas and possibilities. The plan, when released, will reflect ideas that we think are realistic, fair and implementable that will enhance the lives of the Israeli and Palestinian people. We will not discuss any specific ideas or private conversations that may or may not have been had with leaders in the region.”

Go deeper

Democrat Mark Kelly sworn in to U.S. Senate

Photo: Courtney Pedroza/Getty Images

Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) was sworn in to the U.S. Senate on Wednesday after defeating incumbent Sen. Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) last month for the seat once held by the late Sen. John McCain.

Why it matters: Kelly's swearing-in by Vice President Mike Pence narrows the Republican majority and moves the Senate balance to 52-48.

Senate Armed Services chair dismisses Trump threat to veto defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters Wednesday that he plans to move ahead with a crucial defense-spending bill without provisions that would eliminate tech industry protections, defying a veto threat from President Trump.

Why it matters: Inhofe's public rebuke signals that the Senate could have enough Republican backing to override a potential veto from Trump, who has demanded that the $740 billion National Defense Authorization Act repeal Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.

Scoop: Uber in talks to sell air taxi business to Joby

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Uber is in advanced talks to sell its Uber Elevate unit to Joby Aviation, Axios has learned from multiple sources. A deal could be announced later this month.

Between the lines: Uber Elevate was formed to develop a network of self-driving air taxis, but to date has been most notable for its annual conference devoted to the nascent industry.