Trump’s Mideast team pursues Israeli-Palestinian peace deal in Egypt

President Donald Trump’s Mideast team arrived in Egypt on Thursday as part of its regional tour to discuss a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

By: AP

Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt met with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi in the capital Cairo, according to a White House statement. The visit was part of efforts to overcome the towering obstacles to the deal the team is in charge of drafting.

The meeting touched upon “the need to facilitate humanitarian relief to Gaza,” the statement said. The blockaded and densely populated Gaza strip, ruled by the Palestinian Hamas militant group, has sunk into a deep humanitarian crisis, especially after the increase in violence amid protests at the border with Israel in recent weeks.

Kushner has been leading efforts to broker a peace deal between the two sides. U.S. officials have said the long-awaited peace plan is near completion and should be released this summer following several postponements.

The Trump team met Tuesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Wednesday with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, who acknowledged the talks only after the fact.

Later on Thursday, the team traveled to Qatar and met with its emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, according to a White House statement. They discussed increasing cooperation between the two countries, ways to provide humanitarian relief to Gaza and possibilities for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

In Egypt, Thursday’s meeting with the U.S. delegation also dealt with increasing Egyptian-American cooperation, the White House said without elaborating.

Egypt’s president released a statement after the meeting saying it mainly discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and cooperation. It said the meeting was attended by Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and the acting head of general intelligence Abbas Kamel.

Washington gives Egypt some $1.3 billion in annual military assistance and hundreds of millions more in civilian aid that is linked to Egypt’s 1979 peace treaty with Israel, and underpins a U.S.-Egyptian security relationship that is now mostly aimed at fighting terrorism.