April 24, 2018

Senior US delegation in Israel trying to revive peace talks

25 August 2017, 01:37 | Franklin Nunez

Illustrative Schoolchildren in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar

Illustrative Schoolchildren in the West Bank Bedouin village of Khan al Ahmar

Trump has asked some of his most trusted advisers to spearhead efforts toward achieving a lasting peace agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians - an issue the White House has repeatedly said is a top priority for the President.

The visit is part of a regional tour by Kushner, Trump aide Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.

President Mahmud Abbas reportedly told Israeli left-wing politicians recently that despite more than 20 meetings with United States officials he was still unclear what Trump's strategy was.

However, Palestinian leaders have voiced criticism saying that the U.S. has not clearly committed itself to the two-state solution, which would see a Palestinian state established in the West Bank and Gaza alongside Israel.

Kushner, who is President Donald Trump's son-in-law, was holding separate talks with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, seeking to breathe life into a White House effort that appears to have gotten off to a slow start. Indeed, the situation on the ground in the West Bank heartland of the envisioned Palestinian state has deteriorated, according to the left-wing Israeli Peace Now movement, which monitors settlement activity.

"In that situation, politically, domestically, and I would say personally, with all the problems that [Netanyahu] has back home, it's nearly impossible to create new plans and new ideas", said Yoaz Hendel, chairman of the Institute for Zionist Strategies, a conservative Israeli think tank.

On Wednesday, the USA delegation is expected to arrive in Israel, the media outlet said citing a White House aide. It has to be workable to both sides.

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In a statement, the Egyptian president's office said Kushner's team stressed that its visit in the Mideast aims to develop a specific vision for resuming peace talks so, quote, "real and tangible progress can be achieved".

The crisis ended after the Islamic Waqf, the body that governs the al-Aqsa compound, told Palestinians to stop the boycott of the site following Israel's decision to remove its security restrictions.

She said the government has also established a new settlement for the first time since 1992 and has retroactively legalised unauthorised settlement outposts despite a commitment not to do so.

He said it was an option under consideration because "the American administration has not presented any initiative until now, while the Israelis continue with their settlement activities and refuse to abide by obligations they signed up to".

Commenting on the visit, former National Security Adviser Maj.

"In the intervening months, as the political circumstances of the leaders in the region have changed and frankly deteriorated from the point of view of their flexibility, and as President Trump's own standing has taken a beating because of his domestic controversies, I believe his leverage has diminished considerably".

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