Israel Relationship 'Stronger Than Ever,' Kushner Tells Netanyahu

Kristen Gonzales
August 25, 2017

US President Donald Trump's Mideast peace team headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner arrived in Israel Wednesday night in preparation for a full day of meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah on Thursday.

On the eve of the visit, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he still does not understand what is the US strategy regarding this effort that is ongoing.

Accompanied by deputy national security adviser Dina Powell and Jason Greenblatt, another of Mr Trump's hand-picked negotiators, Mr Kushner was due to hold talks later with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

"Renewed U.S. engagement with our Middle East allies is welcome and badly needed", said Josh Block, president and CEO of The Israel Project, told Politico.

"We have things to talk about - how to advance peace, stability and security in our region, prosperity too".

"In that situation, politically, domestically, and I would say personally, with all the problems that [Netanyahu] has back home, it's nearly impossible to create new plans and new ideas", said Yoaz Hendel, chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, a conservative Israeli think tank.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is part of a delegation that traveled to the Middle East for peace talks, the Trump administration said Tuesday.

Before the start of the meeting Trump posted a message to Netanyahu on social media: "There is no doubt that our relationship with you is stronger than ever!"

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On Wednesday, the U.S. delegation is expected to arrive in Israel, the media outlet said citing a White House aide.

Demonstrators protested before the US delegation's meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Thursday.

The president acknowledges that "there are likely to be a lot of ups and downs on the way to peace and making a peace deal will take time", but he "remains optimistic that progress toward a deal can be achieved", he said.

Kushner is beginning a push for peace talks with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. A spokesman for Abbas called the meeting "important and crucial".

Mr Abbas is unlikely to agree, Mr Masri predicted, but would probably keep the contact going with the Americans "and keep the show going of a process without peace".

Netanyahu instructed police in October 2015 to bar lawmakers from visiting the site in the Old City of Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, which houses the al-Aqsa Mosque complex.

The administration has also sought to protect Israel at the United Nations from criticism of its occupation of Palestinian land. "That's why we will ask them whether they have answers about the basic issues".

DAN SHAPIRO: I hope they'll take a third attack, which would be to focus on taking steps that manage the conflict and keep the two-state solution alive for when better leadership circumstances emerge in the future.

Other reports by TheSundaySentinel

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