President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, arrived in the region on Wednesday for a daylong visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Trump has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the “ultimate deal” — but deep divisions remain, clouding chances of a significant breakthrough in one of the longest Mideast crises.
Kushner first met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, along with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli envoy in Washington Ron Dermer and American Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, at Netanyahu’s office in Jerusalem.
A video released by Netanyahu’s office shows him embracing Kushner and saying: “This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity and peace.”
Later, Kushner will meet with and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
This month marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war — a seminal event in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim these territories for their future independent state.
After two decades of failed U.S.-led peace efforts, Palestinian statehood seems distant. Envoy Jason Greenblatt has already made several visits.
Even before his meetings, Kushner faced a new crisis.
On the eve of his arrival, Israel broke ground on a new West Bank settlement for residents of an illegally built outpost that was dismantled in February under orders from the Supreme Court.
Netanyahu had vowed to compensate the residents of Amona with a new settlement, built on a nearby site in the northern West Bank.
“The people of Amona really appreciate his efforts and the efforts from his office in fulfilling this commitment that started to come alive to create this new community,” said Avichai Boaron, a spokesman for the settlers.
The move has infuriated the Palestinians, who say all settlements…