Jared Kushner Meets Netanyahu, Rival Benny Gantz in Israel

This is the first meeting between Kushner and the Kahol Lavan chairman, who has been tasked with forming a government after Netanyahu's failure to do so

Benny Gantz and Jared Kushenr, together with David Friedman and Yair Lapid in the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, October 28, 2019.
Jeries Mansour, U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kahol Lavan Chairman Benny Gantz met respectively with Jared Kushner at the Prime Minister's Office and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on Monday. 

It was the first time that Gantz and Kushner met. Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser discussed with the former Israeli chief of staff "various regional issues including the growing Iranian security threat, regional stability and the peace process," according to a statement by Gantz. They were joined by Kahol Lavan co-leader Yair Lapid and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.

Kushner is accompanied by his close aide Avi Berkowitz and by Brian Hook, a State Department official who is mainly responsible for America's Iran policy. They are not expected to meet any Palestinian officials, in line with the Palestinian Authority's refusal to sit down with representatives of the Trump administration since its decision in 2017 to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. 

Kushner's visit is said to focus on the Trump administration's peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, which has been sidelined since Netanyahu's failure to form a government after Israelis went to the polls for the first time this year in April.

The meeting comes after Gantz was tasked with forming a governing coalition on Wednesday. Gantz was given the mandate by President Reuven Rivlin after Netanyahu announced that he failed to establish a coalition in the wake of September's election.

Last month, Gantz met with Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s outgoing special envoy to the Middle East. 

Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu met with U.S. Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin. He said Iran has begun deploying missiles in Yemen in order to strike Israel and aspires to "deploy them in Iraq and in Syria, and turn the 130,000-rocket arsenal in Lebanon into precision munitions."