Kushner tells Netanyahu: Trump committed to achieving peace
'The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area,' Trump's son-in-law and chief adviser tells the Israeli PM, while in Ramallah dozens protest against the American administration's pro-Israel stance.
US President Donald Trump is committed to achieving peace in the Middle East, his son-in-law and chief adviser Jared Kushner told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when the two met in Jerusalem on Thursday.
"The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area," Kushner said.
Kushner, a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of international diplomacy or political negotiation, was accompanied by Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategy Dina Powell, as well as US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
"We really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and respectfully in the way the president has asked them to," Kushner added ahead of his meeting with Netanyahu to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.
Netanyahu, on his part, noted optimistically that peace, prosperity, security and stability in the area "are within our reach," thanking Kushner and his team for leading the effort on behalf of the American president.
But there was little to suggest any breakthrough or significant progress towards ending a decades-old conflict is imminent as Kushner began a day of separate meetings with Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Palestinians were still seeking a pledge of support from the Trump administration for the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel—the foundation of US Middle East policy for the past two decades. The last round of peace talks between the two sides collapsed in 2014.
Trump has described peace between Israelis and Palestinians as "the ultimate deal," but added a new wrinkle last February by saying he was not fixed on two states co-existing side by side as a solution to their dispute.
For his part, Netanyahu faces pressure from right-wing coalition partners not to give ground on Jewish settlement building in territory the Palestinians seek for a independent state. The settlement issue contributed to the breakdown of negotiations three years ago.
Pessimism in RamallahIn Ramallah, dozens of Palestinians protested against the American delegation's visit. The demonstrators marched from Al-Manara Square in the city center toward the government building, protesting against the pro-Israel leaning of the American administration.
One protester held up a sign with a caricature of Kusher tied with a leash that is held by a woman that appears to be his wife Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter.
Painting a pessimistic picture, Mahmoud al-Aloul, the second-ranking official in Abbas' Fatah movement, accused US negotiators of focusing in their talks with the president on "Israeli lies" about Palestinian incitement to violence and ignoring what he described as fundamental statehood issues.
"I do not think the American envoys are coming carrying anything—nothing at all," he told reporters.
Meanwhile, PA presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said ahead of the visit Thursday that Abbas's meeting with the American delegation was "important and crucial."
"This may create a new chance to reach a settlement based on the two-state solution and the Arab initiative and stop the current deterioration of the peace process," he said in a statement on the Palestinian state news agency Wafa.
Abu Rdainah was referring to a 2002 Arab League initiative that offers Israel diplomatic recognition from Arab countries in return for a statehood deal with the Palestinians and a full Israeli withdrawal from territory captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Netanyahu has expressed tentative support for parts of the blueprint, but there are many caveats on the Israeli side, including how to resolve the complex Palestinian refugee issue.
Abu Rudeineh also said Abbas held consultations with Jordan's King Abdullah and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman after their meeting with the American delegation.
Reuters contributed to this report.