Jared Kushner, White House Advisor to President Trump, recently visited the Middle East to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Privately, Palestinian officials have expressed some concerns that the Trump administration favors Israel and is neglecting the Palestinian side.
“If the US team doesn’t bring answers to our questions this time, we are going to look into our options because the status quo is not working for our interests,” Ahmad Majdalani, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told The Associated Press.
The U.S., however, has described the trip as productive. In addition to his meeting with the Palestinians, he met with officials in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, as well as Jerusalem, Israel, and Ramallah in the West Bank.
In the past, Trump has not publicly committed to the two-state solution, despite this position being held by the past two presidential administrations. Kushner’s arrival in Ramallah included protests and unflattering images of Kushner, his wife, and President Trump in response to this lack of commitment.
Palestinians, who welcomed Trump’s election initially and his statements about moving the peace process forward, have seen their hopes fade as he has moved on from supporting peace talks. They are seeking an end to Israeli settlement construction and also want the U.S. to support the creation of the Palestine state.
However, the intervening years since the end of the last round of talks has resulted in more violence and a weakening of the political positions of Netanyahu and Abbas.
“The Palestinian Authority and the U.S. delegation had a productive meeting focused on how to begin substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Both sides agreed to continue with the U.S.-led conversations as the best way to reach a comprehensive peace deal,” according to a statement released by the White House.
Part of Kushner’s trip was meant to reach out to key nations that he sees as part of the process of bringing peace between Israel and Palestine. Arab leaders seem ready to embrace this change, signaling a readiness to cooperate by focusing on what they had in common with Israel versus their traditional grievances.
However, the U.S. is also banking on the younger leaders in the region, which they believe could be a driving force in finally getting this process moving. Other issues, including the relationships the U.S. has with Iran and North Korea, could impact how the region’s countries respond to the latest efforts to address what is seen as a significant roadblock to peace in the region.