Arab Foreign Ministers Welcome American Efforts for Mideast Talks

abbas kushner
Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty

TEL AVIV – Palestinian, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers on Saturday said they were anticipating renewed efforts by the U.S. to jumpstart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations  ahead of a visit to the region by advisers to President Donald Trump Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt.

On Saturday, the ministers said in a joint statement from a meeting in Cairo that they “appreciated the American role to achieve peace” between the Israelis and Palestinians.

They added that they “look forward to the U.S. administration intensifying its efforts in the coming period.”

Last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said he looked forward to the visit.

“Trump will soon be sending [senior adviser and son-in-law] Jared Kushner and [Special Envoy for International Negotiations] Jason Greenblatt for talks in the region, and of course Jerusalem, in an effort to jump-start a diplomatic process,” Netanyahu told his ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting.

“We of course will welcome them as always,” he said.

Along with Kushner and Greenblatt, Trump will also be sending Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell to the region to take advantage of a new “opportunity” to advance the president’s peace efforts, a senior White House official told the Times of Israel Friday.

Trump “believes that the restoration of calm and the stabilized situation in Jerusalem after the recent crisis on the Temple Mount/Haram al-Sharif has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration,” the official said.

The U.S. delegation, which resulted from discussions between Chief of Staff John Kelly, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, is slated to meet with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

According to the official, Trump requested that the talks concentrate on finding “a path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism [and dealing with] the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there.”

He also said that the delegation has been instructed to work on “strengthening our relations with regional partners and the economic steps that can be taken both now and after a peace deal is signed to ensure security, stability and prosperity for the region.”

Earlier this month, Kushner made off-the-record remarks to congressional interns in which he said there may not be a way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“What do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know,” he said. “I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically. We’re thinking about what the right end state is. And we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution.”

“There may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future,” he added.

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