U.S. Sens. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, and Chris Murphy, D-CT. at the airport.
Sens. Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney hold press conference on their trip to the Middle East.

Washington –Sen. Chris Murphy has returned from a five-day trip to the Middle East with Utah Sen. Mitt Romney with the “sense” that Israel’s Muslim neighbors have “low expectations” for the Trump administration’s peace plan for the region, which has yet to be unveiled.

“But with low expectations comes opportunity,” Murphy said.

Murphy and Romney, a former GOP presidential candidate, met with Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. They also spoke separately, by phone, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who was reelected earlier this month.

Murphy said “it felt to be a very odd time” in Israel since the Trump peace plan, called “the deal of the century” by the Israelis, is an unknown.

White House senior adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is in charge of the project, has said the peace plan will be unveiled sometime after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends June 5.

That plan, however, may not include the “two-state solution” that would give Palestinians full statehood. The two-state solution has been rejected by Netanyahu, who has pledged to begin annexing illegal Israeli Jewish settlements that stretch deep into the West Bank.

“There’s anxiety in the region that [the two-state solution] is slipping away,” Murphy said. “Yet I don’t know that there’s a better answer.”

Murphy criticized the Palestinian leadership for rejecting U.S. aid and for making payments to the widows and children of terrorists killed in action.

The senators also visited Iraq and Jordan.

Murphy said Iraq is actively looking for new business partners, especially to develop its rich oil and natural gas reserves. Both senators said they hoped Saudi Arabia would form business alliances with Iraq.

Murphy said the United States should prod Riyadh. “I imagine there are some chits it can call in,” he said.

Romney said a partnership between Saudi Arabia and Iraq “should be like two magnets coming together.”

During their visit to Jordan, Murphy said there is concern the Trump peace plan would cause unrest. “Everybody is guessing what’s in it,” he said.

U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Mitt Romney meet with the Speaker of Iraq’s Council of Representatives, Mohamed al-Halbousi.

Ana has written about politics and policy in Washington, D.C.. for Gannett, Thompson Reuters and UPI. She was a special correspondent for the Miami Herald, and a regular contributor to The New York TImes, Advertising Age and several other publications. She has also worked in broadcast journalism, for CNN and several local NPR stations. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Journalism.

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  1. Lets encourage Cong. Murphy to focus on America’s needs first and foremost. The mid-east has been a cauldron of powerful religious fervor’s and regional conflicts for nearly 2 millennia. Absent Isreal none of the mid-east nations come anywhere reflecting western norms of behaviors and expectations of individual rights and privileges. Neither Pres. Trump nor any other US President can change the complex mid-east. But whether Saudi Arabia should remain our “ally” is problematical after a recent reported public beheading of several dozen citizens.

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