Kushner discusses peace plan with Saudi leaders

In addition to Saudi leaders, Kushner met with leaders in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Turkey during his trip. 
Thursday 28/02/2019
White House adviser Jared Kushner looks on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, Poland, February 14. (Reuters)
Long road. White House adviser Jared Kushner looks on during the Middle East summit in Warsaw, Poland, February 14. (Reuters)

LONDON - Jared Kushner, adviser and son-in-law to US President Donald Trump, held discussions on a Middle East peace proposal with Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, US officials said.

Kushner is on a regional tour trying to generate support for what Trump has called “the deal of the century” but has been vague on the plan’s details. In addition to Saudi leaders, Kushner met with leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Oman and Turkey during his trip. 

A White House statement released February 27 said Kushner, Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt and US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook met with the Saudi leaders.

“Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing cooperation between the United States and Saudi Arabia and the Trump administration’s efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the statement said.

“Additionally, they discussed ways to improve the condition of the entire region through economic investment.”

In an interview with Sky News Arabia during his stop in the United Arab Emirates, Kushner made no specific mention of a Palestinian state, whose creation had been at the foundation of Washington’s peace efforts for two decades.

However, he said the long-awaited peace proposal would build on “a lot of the efforts in the past,” including the 1993 Oslo Accords, which provided a foundation for Palestinian statehood, and would require concessions from both sides.

Kushner said the proposal contained a “political plan, which is very detailed” and “really about establishing borders and resolving final-status issues.”

Ahead of the Kushner visit, King Salman hosted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and stated that Saudi Arabia “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

It remains to be seen whether Riyadh and its allies can persuade the United States to change its stance on Jerusalem considering that Trump has stated that Jerusalem was off the negotiation table and despite his claim that issues between the Palestinian and Israelis were easily solvable.

Gulf sources told Thomson Reuters that Kushner’s approach to ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict did not appear to have progressed since his trip to the region last June, focusing largely on economic initiatives at the expense of a land-for-peace deal long central to the official Arab position.

Palestinians have refused to discuss any peace plan with the United States after Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, while some Arab leaders publicly rejected any deal that fails to address Jerusalem’s status or Palestinian refugees’ right of return.