President Donald Trump plans to dispatch son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and two other aides to the Middle East “soon,” a senior White House official said Friday.
Jason Greenblatt, special representative for international negotiations, and Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser, will join Kushner on the trip “to continue discussions with regional partners about how best to support the peace effort,” the official said, noting that they will meet with leaders representing Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Citing the president’s commitment to achieving peace between Israel and Palestine, the official said Trump “believes that the restoration of calm and the stabilized situation in Jerusalem” following a crisis on the Temple Mount “has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration.”
The official said the aides’ journey will follow “various meetings” with top administration officials, including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, White House chief of staff John Kelly and national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
Kushner, whose portfolio includes negotiating peace between Israel and Palestine, met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders in June. Trump, who was once bullish on brokering a peace deal, hasn’t accomplished much on that front thus far. He did, however, sign a waiver earlier this summer that delayed moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. The White House said at the time that Trump signed the waiver “to maximize the chances of successfully negotiating a deal” but remains committed to moving the embassy.
For the upcoming trip, the official said Trump has requested that the conversations focus on topics such as “the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks” and “the economic steps that can be taken both now and after a peace deal is signed to ensure security, stability and prosperity for the region,” in addition to combating extremism and easing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
“While the regional talks will play an important role, the president reaffirms that peace between Israelis and Palestinians can only be negotiated directly between the two parties and that the United States will continue working closely with the parties to make progress towards that goal,” the official said.
“President Trump has previously noted that achieving an enduring Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement will be difficult but he remains optimistic that peace is possible,” the official continued. “To enhance the chances for peace, all parties need to engage in creating an environment conducive to peace-making while affording the negotiators and facilitators the time and space they need to reach a deal.”