Kushner meets with leaders in Middle East
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.