Kushner, Greenblatt to Visit Middle East to Discuss Economic Aspects of Peace Plan

Tour in key gulf countries will focus on strengthening of the Palestinian economy, despite absence of official contacts between Trump administration and Palestinian Authority

White House Adviser Jared Kushner waves as he arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative in Washington. Aug. 29, 2018
Jacquelyn Martin,AP

WASHINGTON - Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will visit the Middle East at the end of February to discuss the economic aspects of the President’s peace plan.

Kushner will be accompanied by Trump’s special envoy to the region, Jason Greenblatt, on a visit that will include stops in at least five Arab countries.

This will be Kushner’s first visit to the region since the administration announced it will delay the presentation of the peace plan until the end of the Israeli election.

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Kushner and Greenblatt will meet with the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates - three countries that could play a key role in supporting efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy.

A similar visit by Kushner and Greenblatt to these countries last summer, focused on supporting economic projects in the Gaza Strip, together with Egypt. It’s still unclear, however, if these countries will agree to support economic projects without knowing the full details of the peace plan, which haven’t yet been published. 

The visit by Kushner and Greenblatt will focus only on the economic issues, according to the White House, and not on the political, diplomatic and security aspects of the plan. A senior administration official told Haaretz last week that the plan will have a strong “regional context” behind it, and that Trump views the plan as part of his efforts to build an alliance between Israel and Arab countries against Iran.

FILE PHOTO: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt, U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, March 14, 2017.
Mohamad Torokman / REUTERS

The same official added that the administration isn’t trying to bypass Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and still hopes to get his support for the peace plan. The plan will not be a “take it or leave it” document, but rather, a basis for negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, perhaps with active participation by the Arab world.

Kushner and Greenblatt will also attend an international summit on the Middle East next week in Warsaw, Poland. Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior Arab officials are also expected to be at the event - but the Palestinian Authority, according to media reports, was not invited.

The Trump administration and the PA have not had any official contacts in more than a year, ever since Trump announced he was recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump later said that by taking this step, he “took Jerusalem off the table.”