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Jerusalem as Israel capital: Saudi Arabia seen on board with US peace efforts

BEIRUT/RIYADH/AMMAN: Saudi Arabia pulled no punches when it condemned US President Donald Trump’s move to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But Palestinian officials say Riyadh has also been working for weeks behind the scenes to press them to support a nascent US peace plan.

Trump reversed decades of US policy on Wednesday with his announcement and instructions to begin the process of moving the embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite warnings that it would drive the wedge between Israel and the Palestinians deeper.

The Saudi royal court described the decision as “unjustified and irresponsible” and “a big step back in efforts to advance the peace process.”
But Arab officials privately say that Riyadh appears to be on board with a broader US strategy for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan+ still in its early phases of development.

Four Palestinian officials, who spoke on condition they not be named, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas discussed in detail a grand bargain that Trump and Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and adviser, are expected to unveil in the first half of 2018.

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