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US makes overture to Palestinians while Israel doubles down

Jerusalem24 – Israel has turned down a US proposal to hold a joint summit with the Palestinian Authority (PA), according to Israeli Walla news website.

Deputy US Secretary of State Wendy Sherman proposed a five-party summit bringing together the foreign ministers of Israel, the PA, the US, Egypt and Jordan. The offer was made during the National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata’s visit to Washington last week, according to senior Israeli officials who spoke to Walla on condition of anonymity.

No negotiations between the PA and Israel have taken place since Israel’s attack on Gaza in 2014.

There has been no comment from US officials in response to the report.

Analysts have been speculating that the US may be trying to strengthen relations with the PA ahead of a planned visit to the region.

On Thursday, the former US Palestinian Affairs Unit officially changed its name to the US Office of Palestinian Affairs, and announced that the newly-named Office would report directly to Washington on diplomatic issues with the Palestinians.

A US Office of Palestinian Affairs spokesperson told Jerusalem24, “The new OPA reporting structure is designed to strengthen our diplomatic reporting and public diplomacy engagement.”

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara A. Leaf is currently on a four-day tour of the West Bank and Israel, where she will “consult with Israeli and Palestinian partners on a range of priorities, including deepening bilateral U.S. cooperation with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Israeli-Palestinian relations, and U.S. support for a two-state solution.”

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