Jared Kushner will return to Jerusalem to jump-start peace talks

Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, will visit the Middle East later this week for meetings in Jerusalem and the West Bank aimed at trying to jump start peace talks, the White House said Monday.

Kushner will arrive in Jerusalem Wednesday for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and will then travel to Ramallah, in the West Bank, for meetings with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s international envoy, will arrive by Monday evening for talks, according to the White House.

“Part of this is really to utilize the trust that has been built up and not have these negotiations out in public,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said of the trip. “They had a very successful visit when the President was over there and they’re going to continue to build on that.”

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Trump made a personal appeal for peace during a visit to Jerusalem last month and has previously described Middle East peace as the “ultimate deal.” Trump, however, has not yet offered any details on how to move the process forward and has avoided sensitive issues that have broken apart previous attempts at a peace agreement, including the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlement construction and the Palestinians’ demand for a sovereign nation.

Trump had earlier tapped Kushner, who has no previous diplomatic or government experience, to help work toward brokering a potential peace deal in the region – something that former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all tried and failed to get done.

Kushner’s visit to the Middle East will be his third since Trump was elected. But his latest visit comes as he’s emerged as a reported focus of the ongoing federal probe into the Russian interference in the 2016 race.

The federal probe being run by special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s has reportedly zeroed in on not only whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice when he fired Comey, but on the business dealings and meetings of Kushner.

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Kushner failed to disclose several meetings with Russian officials either during the campaign or as Trump was preparing to take over the White House, including a December meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak to discuss establishing a secret backchannel between the Kremlin and Trump’s transition team, and a meeting that month with Sergei Gorkov, the chairman of Russian state-owned Vnesheconombank, which is under sanction.

Kushner, for his part, avoided speaking about his coming trip and the investigation in rare public remarks Monday.

In his first public speech since being named an aide to the President, Kushner welcomed technology executives to the White House, calling them “a very impressive group of leaders from the private sector” being put to work “on some of the country’s biggest challenges that will make a very meaningful difference to a lot of its citizens.”

Apple CEO Tim Cook and Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google parent company Alphabet, were among those attending an afternoon of working groups for the opening day of the White House is billing “Tech Week” – a summit to focus on issues like technology infrastructure, modernizing the federal government, cyber security and visas for foreign workers.

Kushner had been delegated by Trump to lead a White House Office of American Innovation to leverage business ideas and potentially privatize some government functions — an effort he said on Monday would help “unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before.”

Kushner did not take questions following his prepared remarks. 

With News Wire Services

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benjamin netanyahu
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