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BREAKING NEWS

Kushner says Middle East peace plan will be 'good starting point'

Kushner says Middle East peace plan will be 'good starting point'
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Thursday the Middle East peace proposal he is working on would be a "good starting point" to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kushner, who is married to U.S. President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka, has been working on the peace plan for some two years and is expected to unveil his proposals in June after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

"What we will be able to put together is a solution that we believe is a good starting point for the political issues and then an outline for what can be done to help these people start living a better life," Kushner told the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

"I was given the assignment of trying to find a solution between the two sides and I think what we'll put forward is a framework that I think is realistic ... it's executable and it's something that I do think will lead to both sides being much better off," Kushner said.

The proposal, which has been delayed for a variety of reasons over the past 18 months, has two major components. It has a political piece that addresses core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, and an economic part that aims to help the Palestinians strengthen their economy.

Kushner, who has been developing the plan with Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, has said the proposal is not an effort to impose U.S. will on the region. He has not said whether it calls for a two-state solution, a goal of past peace efforts.

Palestinians have voiced scepticism about the effort led by Trump's son-in-law, who was a real estate developer before joining his father-in-law as a senior White House adviser.

Arab officials and analysts believe the plan is likely to be decidedly pro-Israel since the Trump administration has taken a tough line towards Palestinians, cutting off aid and ordering the PLO's office in Washington shut.

Greenblatt has said U.S. negotiators expect Israelis and Palestinians will both be critical of some parts of the plan.

Asked about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's vow to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Kushner said once a new Israeli government has settled in, "we'll have discussion." Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new government after his success in the April 9 elections.

"I hope both sides will take a real look at it, the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps are made," Kushner said, adding he had not discussed the issue of settlement annexation with Netanyahu.

(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by David Alexander; Editing by Rosalba O'Brien and Peter Cooney)

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