Senior advisers to US President Donald Trump will visit Jerusalem and Ramallah this week to revive peace talks, a White House official confirmed on Monday. Middle East Envoy Jason Greenblatt is expected to arrive on Monday, followed by Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday.
“Excited to be traveling back to Israel and the Pal. Territories to continue the discussion about the possibility of peace,” wrote Greenblatt on Twitter.
The trip was first reported in the Wall Street Journal and sourced to a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is important to remember that forging a historic peace agreement will take time and to the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington, D.C., or other locations as they pursue substantive talks,” said the White House source.
The visit will be the latest installment in a flurry of Israel-Palestinian diplomacy during the initial period of the Trump administration. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the White House in February, followed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in May. Later in May, Trump said during a visit to Israel that both parties are “reaching for peace,” and also reportedly lambasting Abbas for “lying” about working towards peace with Israel.
“You tricked me in DC! You talked there about your commitment to peace, but the Israelis showed me your involvement in incitement [against Israel],” Trump was reported to have shouted at Abbas.
Despite the criticism, however, Trump also asked Netanyahu last month to “hold back” on Israeli construction in Judea and in order to facilitate peacemaking efforts. That has caused friction between the prime minister and right-wing elements in the governing coalition and amongst Netanyahu’s support base – an issue that could become acute if the president’s representatives push for more building limits.
Spokespeople for the United States Consulate in Jerusalem said they had not yet been briefed on the visit, and outside observers said the White House has tried hard to keep details about the state of the peace process under President Trump out of the news.
With additional reporting by Andrew Friedman.