TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner on Thursday as part of a visit to the region with the aim of jumpstarting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations aimed at creating a Palestinian state.
“I’m very pleased to see you again, Jared, with your delegation. We have a lot of things to talk about: how to advance peace, stability and security in our region – prosperity too,” Netanyahu told Kushner before the meeting at the IDF Headquarters in the Kirya compound in Tel Aviv, adding that he thought all of those goals are “within our reach.”
“I’m happy to see you and the effort that you’re leading on behalf of the president, with [Special Envoy to the Middle East] Jason [Greenblatt] and members of your team. I think this is a sign of the great alliance between us and the great goals that guide us,” the prime minister added.
Kushner answered that the White House was “very appreciative of your team and all the efforts that they’ve made.”
“The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area, and we really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way that the president has asked them to do so,” he said.
Kushner added that “the relationship between Israel and America is stronger than ever and we really thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership and his partnership.”
The delegation is set to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday evening. Abbas has been vocal in recent days about his skepticism regarding the Trump administration’s attitude toward the Palestinians.
A Palestinian demonstration took place in Ramallah ahead of the meeting in protest over the perceived favoritism by the White House toward Israel. Leading the protest was a Palestinian in a kaffiyeh holding a sign with a cartoon of Kushner crouching like a dog and being held on a leash by his wife, Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who is wearing a dress with the Israeli flag and saying “Kushner is our dog.”
The protestors chanted, “The American is not welcome; the dog that serves Tel Aviv.”
Palestinian officials have spoken out against the U.S. for “taking Israel’s side” in the conflict, especially with its insistence that the Ramallah-based government cease making payments to terrorists and their families – a demand that, until now, the PA has refused to comply with.
Abbas is said to be “disillusioned” with the U.S.’s peace efforts and may even be considering dissolving the PA and turning to the UN in another effort to gain full membership status.
On Tuesday, Breitbart Jerusalem reported that the Palestinian leadership emphasized “there will be no peace” without the establishment of a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.
The Palestinian ambassador to Washington, Husam Zomlot, warned in an interview with the National that if the U.S. delegation refuses to meet the terms set by the Palestinians they will resort to other measures including “popular resistance” or turning to the UN.
“If we don’t succeed this time, all the options are Armaggedonist,” Zomlot said.
“For the last three months we have done the talking, the microphone was with us, we explained in detail where we see things going, and now it’s time to listen,” Zomlot said, adding that the “only final solution is the two states based on the 1967 borders” and demanding “crystal clarity from the U.S. before we start the journey, on where we are going and how we will get there.”
Breitbart Jerusalem reported earlier in the week on Abbas’ remarks to a group of leftwing Israeli lawmakers that despite being assured on at least 20 occasions that the Americans supported the cessation of Jewish settlement construction as well as the two-state solution, Trump’s envoys had refused to convey the same message to the Israelis.
“I don’t even know how they are dealing with us, because his entire administration is in chaos,” Abbas said.
“I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States,” Abbas added. “Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained. They said they would consider it, but then they didn’t get back to me.”
He added that it is impossible to know what Trump and his aides have in mind.
A day before Abbas’ meeting with Kushner, Lebanese daily Al Hayat cited unnamed sources in the PA as saying that Abbas is waiting for a written commitment from Greenblatt and Kushner that the U.S. will demand Israel “freeze settlement construction in the West Bank and work towards a two-state solution.” Abbas, however, did not respond to Netanyahu’s previous settlements freezes, which were made multiple times with the hopes of prompting the Palestinians to the negotiating table.
“He 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.