Sean Spicer 'Unaware' of Tensions Between Jared Kushner, Mahmoud Abbas During Ramallah Meeting

Trump's press secretary joins other U.S. officials in pushing back against reports that Trump's son-in-law, Palestinian president clashed on key issues

A handout picture provided by the Palestinian Authority's press office (PPO) on June 21, 2017, shows Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (R) US President's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner (L) in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
THAER GHANAIM/AFP

WASHINGTON - White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said on Monday that he "was not aware" of any tensions at the recent meeting between Jared Kushner, President Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. 

Spicer was asked about reports that came out over the weekend saying that the two had a tense meeting last week in Ramallah, during which they discussed how to renew the peace process and also how to deal with the thorny issue of Palestinian payments to families of convicted terrorists. 

Trump's special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, also took part in the meeting. Spicer's denial of any tensions joins attempts by other White House officials over the weekend to push back against those reports. 

The White House readout of the meeting, which was published on Thursday, emphasized that "The United States officials and Palestinian leadership underscored that forging peace will take time and stressed the importance of doing everything possible to create an environment conducive to peacemaking." Spicer also said that the meeting was "positive" and the discussions on steps to support the peace process continue.

The delegation led by Kushner reportedly voiced their discontent at Abbas during the meeting for refusing to condemn a recent terror attack in Jerusalem that left one dead, according to the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper.

Kushner and Greenblatt also raised the issue of payments made to terrorists in prison and to the families of dead terrorists and that of incitement against Israel in the Palestinian Authority.

Senior Palestinian officials stated after their meeting with Kushner and Greenblatt that the Palestinian leadership was greatly disappointed. According to them, Kushner and Greenblatt, who came from a meeting in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, raised in the beginning of the meeting Israel's complaints over the payments and the incitement. 

"They sounded like Netanyahu's advisers and not like fair arbiters," a senior Palestinian official said.  "They started presenting Netanyahu's issues and then we asked to hear from them clear stances regarding the core issues of the conflict."

Spicer was also asked during the briefing if the administration has anything to say on the Israeli government's decision to retract the Western Wall plan. He said that the administration didn't and referred any future questions to the State Department. However, since this is an internal Israeli issue that is not directly related to the United States government, it is not expected that the State Department will address it either.