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Kushner speaks at U.S. embassy opening in Jerusalem. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP/Getty Images

Senior U.S. officials involved in drafting President Trump's Middle East peace plan pushed back on claims from Palestinian leadership and from some officials in Europe that the plan will be biased in favor of Israel. One official told me, "Our peace plan is not a 'Bibi plan,'" referring to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Why it matters: Palestinian President Abbas' aides have said the U.S. peace plan will be "dead on arrival" and claimed the U.S. team has essentially been carrying Netanyahu's water for the last year and a half. The U.S. has been trying to pass messages to the Palestinians in public and in private through several Arab countries, asking them not to reject the peace plan out of hand.

"If we wanted to draft a 'Bibi plan' that is not fair, balanced, realistic and appropriate we could have done that 17 months ago. I don't think characterizing it as a 'Bibi plan' is a fair characterization of our plan. There will be parts of the plan both sides are going to not like."
— Senior U.S. officials

As I reported yesterday, the White House Middle East peace team — Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt — are going to travel to Jerusalem, Cairo, Riyadh and Doha next week to discuss the plan, which could be released soon, and the crisis in Gaza.

  • Kushner and Greenblatt will not meet Palestinian officials, who are boycotting the White House over President Trump's Jerusalem embassy announcement. However, the White House believes there might be a chance to renew contacts with the Palestinians after the plan is launched and as Arab and Western countries see what's in it and urge them to engage.

One senior official told me: "Look what happened two days ago in North Korea. Things change and we have long term view of this. We don't let ourselves get dragged down by decisions that occur because we think those decisions might eventually change under the right circumstances."

Go deeper

8 hours ago - Health

Food banks feel the strain without holiday volunteers

People wait in line at Food Bank Community Kitchen on Nov. 25 in New York City. Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Food Bank For New York City

America's food banks are sounding the alarm during this unprecedented holiday season.

The big picture: Soup kitchens and charities, usually brimming with holiday volunteers, are getting far less help.

10 hours ago - Health

AstraZeneca CEO: "We need to do an additional study" on COVID vaccine

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

AstraZeneca CEO Pascal Soriot said on Thursday the company is likely to start a new global trial to measure how effective its coronavirus vaccine is, Bloomberg reports.

Why it matters: Following Phase 3 trials, Oxford and AstraZeneca said their vaccine was 90% effective in people who got a half dose followed by a full dose, and 62% effective in people who got two full doses.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus cases rose 10% in the week before Thanksgiving.
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York coronavirus restrictions.
  3. World: Expert says COVID vaccine likely won't be available in Africa until Q2 of 2021 — Europeans extend lockdowns.
  4. Economy: The winners and losers of the COVID holiday season.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.

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