President Trump’s son-in law and advisor spent the entire day on Wednesday in the Middle East as part of the process by which the Trump administration plans to bring peace to the region. The Trump administration allowed that such peace “will take some time.”
Kushner’s visit comes a month after he escorted Trump to Israel. In February, Trump had asked Prime Minister Netanyahu to “hold back on settlements for a little bit.” Since then, 8,000 housing units in West Bank settlements have been approved – the most in a six month period in 25 years.
Construction began this week on a new settlement deep in the West Bank. “After 20 years I have the privilege of being the first prime minister to build a new settlement in Judea and Samaria,” boasted Netanyahu.
Last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was forced to retract comments he made to the senate Foreign Relations Committee that Trump had persuaded the Palestinian Authority to agree to end payments to ‘terrorist’ prisoners and their families after the Palestinian Authority denied such agreement.
While Kushner may have no direct experience in diplomacy, he is qualified for his role by virtue of his family’s long friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, and by his role as a director of a family foundation that has made charitable donations to West Bank settlements. Kushner is aided in his Middle East peace mission by Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, whose qualifications consist of being a real estate lawyer who worked for the Trump Organization.
Kushner began his bid to restart peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians by paying a condolence visit to the Malka family. Hadas Malka was serving in the Israeli border patrol when she was fatally stabbed (another Israeli suffered minor injuries). Israeli soldiers opened fired and the attacker and his two companions were killed and two Palestinian bystanders were injured, one seriously.
US ambassador, Jason Greenblatt expressed outrage over Malka’s death. “She was murdered by terrorists. This violence is intolerable!” he tweeted. The Palestinians might, however, have seen her as a soldier in an occupying army. .
Kushner followed a candle lighting ceremony with the Malkas with a two hour meeting with Netanyahu. Welcoming Kushner before the meeting, Netanyahu said, “This is an opportunity for us to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace….”
Netanyahu added that Trump’s visit to Israel last month was a “historic trip, with fantastic warmth, and made an indelible impression on the people of Israel.”
Kushner’s eloquent response, “The president sends his best regards, and it’s an honor to be here with you.’’
Kushner finished his day with a meeting with Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas' spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, said that the two men held a detailed discussion that focused on issues at the core of a final status agreement.
The Times of Israel reports, “Channel 2 political analyst Udi Segal reported that Greenblatt and Kushner had come to bring a message of a general desire for peace that the television reporter described as a “Miss Universe wish for world peace,” with absolutely no concrete proposals, details, goals or even a plan to get Netanyahu and Abbas in the same room.”
Mr. Kushner and the Israeli officials “underscored that forging peace will take time” and emphasized the “importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking,” the White House said.