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U.S. expects Mideast plan will receive criticism

Reuters WASHINGTON (Reuters) — The Trump administration is prepared for Israeli criticism of elements of its coming Middle East peace plan, the U.S. envoy to the region said, even as Washington faces growing Palestinian accusations that it will be heavily tilted in favor of Israel.

In an interview with Reuters, Jason Greenblatt, a chief architect of the long-awaited peace initiative, said U.S. negotiators had entered the “pre-launch phase” of the plan, despite a boycott by Palestinian leaders.

But he declined to specify a time frame, except to say it would not be announced at the U.N. General Assembly gathering in New York later this month, or offer any details of a proposal that has drawn deep skepticism, even before its unveiling.

Pushing back against widespread perceptions among Palestinians, Arab officials and independent analysts that the peace plan is likely to be decidedly pro-Israel, Greenblatt made clear that both sides can expect parts they will like and dislike.

“We’re going to have to defend the plan to Israelis and Palestinians. We are ready for criticism from all sides, but we believe this is the best path forward for everyone,” he said as the administration moved to finalize the initiative, which is led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

But there was no immediate explanation of what might disappoint Israelis, who have been largely pleased with U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East policies but have at times been rattled by suggestions he might ask them for significant concessions.

Greenblatt said, however, that the United States will recommend compromises but will not seek to impose a deal.

“The parties will need to decide if they think the plan works for them and will make their lives better,” he said. “The parties are the only ones who can make these compromises, and there are no compromises on Israel’s security needs.”

Doubts have mounted over whether Trump’s administration can secure what he has called the “ultimate deal” after it cut off aid to the Palestinians and ordered the PLO’s office in Washington shut, further angering Palestinian leaders and reinforcing their refusal to engage in U.S.-led diplomacy.

The Palestinians have refused to participate in the U.S. effort since December when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and then moved the U.S. Embassy there.Speech

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