Middle East/North Africa

Kushner meets Netanyahu amid push for Mideast peace deal


White House senior adviser Jared Kushner met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday to build support for his Middle East peace plan, amid fresh political turmoil in Israel.

Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, touted the relationship between Washington and Jerusalem.

“The security of Israel is something that is critical to the relationship between America and Israel and also very important to the president in his heart, and we appreciate all of your efforts to strengthen the relationship between our two countries,” he told Netanyahu. “It’s never been stronger.”{mosads}

Netanyahu also promoted his close relationship with Trump, pointing to a map the president had given him depicting the recently annexed Golan Heights as part of Israel.

Kushner and U.S. special envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Netanyahu in his Jerusalem residence Thursday as part of a regional tour to rally support for an upcoming economic conference in Bahrain being organized by the White House, where the administration plans to roll out the economic portion of its peace deal.

The U.S. hopes to attract investments from wealthy Arab countries that would bolster infrastructure work and investment in the Palestinian territories. Kushner and Greenblatt also visited Jordan and Morocco this week to drum up support for the Bahrain conference. 

Kushner had previously suggested that his highly anticipated peace plan could be rolled out in June, following the end of Ramadan and after Netanyahu formed a new government. But that timing has been thrown into uncertainty after Netanyahu, who was reelected to his fifth term in April, failed to form a new majority government.

The Israeli parliament voted early Thursday morning to dissolve itself and send the country back to the polls for its second national election this year.

Netanyahu must now stand for election again as he also faces corruption charges.

Netanyahu dismissed any idea that the turmoil would impact cooperation between the U.S. and Israel, saying after the meeting that “even though we had a little event last night, it’s not going to stop us.”

“The Bahrain workshop will go on as scheduled, June 25/26,” an administration official told The Hill. “As far as the rest of the plan/rollout, we’ve long said that we will release the plan when the timing is right.”

Another potential obstacle to the peace plan is the opposition of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who rejected the parameters of the Bahrain conference and the role of the U.S. as a mediator after Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

Jordan Fabian contributed. Updated 2:24 p.m.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump Jared Kushner
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