US envoy Jared Kushner kicks off Mideast peace push

Reporters were barred from covering Kushner’s meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials and had no opportunity to ask questions.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner made his first solo visit Wednesday to the region, holding separate meetings with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in an attempt to restart long-dormant peace talks.

There was no immediate word on the meetings, which are aimed at laying the groundwork for a resumption of negotiations for the first time in three years.

The Trump administration faces the same obstacles that have doomed previous attempts by a string of Republican and Democratic administrations, including deep disagreements over key issues such as borders, with each side claiming Jerusalem as its capital.

Kushner enjoys some advantages, however, that could allow him to make at least some progress. Trump made a successful visit to the region last month and appears to have forged a good working relationship with both sides.

The new atmosphere of goodwill, along with concerns of potentially provoking the unpredictable president, could give Trump leverage in extracting concessions from the sides.

Kushner met with the Israeli leader in Jerusalem for about 3 ½ hours before heading to Palestinian Authority (PA) headquarters in Ramallah for a late-night meeting with PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

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Netanyahu’s office released a short video showing Kushner, along with envoy Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, arriving at the Israeli premier’s office in Jerusalem.

Netanyahu warmly greeted Kushner with a smile and hug. “This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace,” Netanyahu said.

“The president sends his best regards and it’s an honor to be here with you,” Kushner responded.

Reporters were barred from covering the meetings and did not have an opportunity to ask Kushner questions.

Upon his arrival in Israel, Kushner’s first stop was a private condolence visit with the family of Hadas Malka, the border policewoman stabbed to death Friday by a Palestinian terrorist in Jerusalem’s Old City.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff