Trump Adviser Jared Kushner to Visit Israel, Meet Gantz for the First Time

Late October visit, focused on Trump's peace proposal, to include meetings with Netanyahu and his political rival as coalition talks drag on

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Jared Kushner, left, and Prime Minister Netanyahu
Jared Kushner, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting in Jerusalem, 2017. Credit: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO

WASHINGTON – Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, will arrive in Israel near the end of the month in what will be his first visit to the country and the region since September's Knesset election.

In addition to meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Kushner will, for the first time, also meet with Benny Gantz, the leader of the Kahol Lavan party and Netanyahu's main rival for the prime minister's post. The visit comes as negotiations over the formation of a new coalition government continue.

Kushner's visit will likely take place at a point in the coalition negotiations when Gantz will have been tasked to form a government. Netanyahu's deadline to form a governing coalition will expire on Wednesday and it is thought unlikely that President Reuven Rivlin will give him an extension of time. September's election followed one in April that ended inconclusively.

Kushner's visit will focus on the Trump administration's peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians, which has been sidelined since the Netanyahu's failure to form a government after Israelis went to the polls in April. Kushner will be accompanied on his upcoming visit by his close aide Avi Berkowitz and by Brian Hook, a State Department official who is mainly responsible for America's Iran policy.

The Trump administration team working on the Israel-Palestinian peace plan, which is being led by Kushner, had intended to release the plan after the election in April, and was caught by surprise when another election was called.

Following the scheduling the September vote, Kushner and the team working with him on the peace plan decided to publish the plan’s economic chapter. The administration also organized a conference in Bahrain focused on the economic future of the region. No Palestinian or Israeli officials participated, although private business executives from Israel and the Palestinian territories attended independently.

The political chapter of the peace plan has not yet been revealed, but Palestinian leaders have expressed concern that it will be biased in favor of Israel.