Kushner meets Abbas, Netanyahu in bid to restart talks

Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law held meetings with Palestine and Israel leaders aimed at continuing talks.

kushner trump netanyahu
Kushner, whose father is a friend of Netanyahu, accompanied Trump on his visit of Israel and Palestine in May [File: Reuters]

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, has held meetings with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the White House said.

Kushner, accompanied by Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, is attempting to broker a deal to restart negotiations between Israel and Palestine, which were frozen since US-led talks collapsed in 2014.

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Kushner travelled to Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, on Wednesday for talks with Abbas where, according to Abbas’ spokesperson, all major issues at the heart of the conflict were discussed. 

“Kushner and Greenblatt discussed with President Abbas priorities for the Palestinians and potential next steps, acknowledging the need for economic opportunities for Palestinians and major investments in the Palestinian economy,” a White House statement said.

A White House official said earlier this week that Trump “strongly believes that peace is possible” and that Greenblatt and Kushner were expected to visit the region several times in the coming months.

‘Dishonest broker’

Kushner’s connection to Israel, including his family’s investments in illegal settlements in occupied territory and personal relationship with the current Israeli prime minister, has caused some Palestinian leaders to question the Trump administration’s Middle East team’s ability to be impartial.

Omar Barghouti, a prominent Palestinian rights activist, referred to the Kushner-led team as “the most dishonest broker in the history of US peacemaking“.

Kushner’s lack of experience in government or international affairs has also caused concern about his ability to thrust himself into US-led negotiations between the two parties, which for 25 years have produced no real results. 

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Efforts by the previous US administration of Barack Obama, led by then Secretary of State John Kerry, to negotiate between Israel and Palestine resulted in a total breakdown of talks between both sides.

Israel continued aggressively building illegal settlement homes, to the ire of the Obama administration, which at the end of its term in office did not block a UN resolution calling on Israel to halt its settlement construction.

Shortly after, Kerry delivered a speech that many analysts and observers considered to be a “eulogy for the two-state solution“.

But since Trump assumed office, Israel has drastically increased its settlement programme, and is on course to build the most settlements in 25 years

Israel has also moved beyond merely expanding existing settlements, beginning construction on the first new settlement in the occupied West Bank since 1992.

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During his trip, Kushner did not speak to the media or take questions, maintaining the circumspect profile he has established since Trump took office in January.

Greenblatt and Kushner both accompanied Trump in May on his first visit as president to Israel and Palestine.

Trump has described peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians as “the ultimate deal” and made it a priority.

But it remains unclear what approach Trump, via Kushner and Greenblatt, plans to take on resolving the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

For at least two decades, the goal of US-led diplomacy has been a “two-state solution”, meaning an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side and at peace with Israel.

But when Trump met Netanyahu in Washington in February, he said he was not fixed on two states, saying: “I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies