Kush­ner meets with lead­ers in Mid­dle East

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY JOSEF FE­D­ER­MAN

JERUSALEM | Pres­i­dent Trump’s sonin-law and chief Mid­dle East ad­viser, Jared Kush­ner, made his first solo visit Wed­nes­day to the re­gion, hold­ing sep­a­rate meet­ings with the Is­raeli and Pales­tinian lead­ers in an at­tempt to restart long-dor­mant peace talks.

Sitting down with Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu, Mr. Kush­ner and other U.S. of­fi­cials dis­cussed “po­ten­tial next steps” to make progress to­ward Mr. Trump’s goal of “a gen­uine and last­ing peace” be­tween Is­raelis and Pales­tini­ans, the White House said. The meet­ings are aimed at lay­ing the ground­work for a re­sump­tion of ne­go­ti­a­tions for the first time in three years.

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion faces the same ob­sta­cles that have doomed pre­vi­ous at­tempts by a string of Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic ad­min­is­tra­tions — deep dis­agree­ments over key is­sues such as bor­ders, du­el­ing claims to Jerusalem and the fate of mil­lions of Pales­tinian refugees and their de­scen­dants.

But Mr. Kush­ner, who has no diplo­matic ex­pe­ri­ence — or bag­gage, en­joys some ad­van­tages that could al­low him to make at least some progress. Mr. Trump made a well-re­ceived visit to the re­gion last month and ap­pears to have forged a good work­ing re­la­tion­ship with both sides.

The new at­mos­phere of good­will, along with con­cerns of po­ten­tially pro­vok­ing the un­pre­dictable pres­i­dent, could give Mr. Trump lever­age in ex­tract­ing con­ces­sions from the sides.

Mr. Kush­ner, who is Jewish and whose fam­ily has a long re­la­tion­ship with Mr. Ne­tanyahu, met with the Is­raeli leader along with en­voy Ja­son Green­blatt and U.S. Am­bas­sador David Fried­man in Jerusalem for about 31⁄2 hours be­fore head­ing to the West Bank city of Ra­mal­lah for a late-night meet­ing with Pales­tinian Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas.

Re­porters were barred from cov­er­ing the meet­ings and did not have an op­por­tu­nity to ask Mr. Kush­ner ques­tions.

Mr. Trump has tasked the hus­band of his daugh­ter Ivanka with the am­bi­tious goal of lay­ing the ground­work for what he calls the “ul­ti­mate deal” — but deep di­vi­sions cloud chances of a break­through in one of the long­est Mideast crises.


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