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White House's Kushner meets Netanyahu in Jerusalem visit


AFP Jerusalem
US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday as part of a Middle East tour before Washington unveils its long-awaited plan for Israel-Palestinian peace.
Kushner, accompanied by Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt and Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, arrived in Jerusalem after earlier stops in Morocco and Jordan.
He is a key architect of the peace plan the White House says it intends to present in the coming weeks.
But the plan, previously delayed for an Israeli general election on April 9, could face further postponements due to Israeli politics.
Israel is set to hold another general election in September after Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, and the plan is widely seen as too sensitive an issue to introduce during a political campaign.
Netanyahu, who has formed a close bond with Trump, made reference to parliament's vote just after midnight to schedule new elections when meeting Kushner.
"Even though we had a little event last night, that's not going to stop us," Netanyahu said after their meeting at his residence.
"We're going to continue working together. We had a great productive meeting which reaffirms the alliance" between the United States and Israel," he said in a statement.
Kushner told Netanyahu "we appreciate all of your efforts to strengthen the relationship between our two countries."

"It's never been stronger, and we're very excited about all the potential that lies ahead for Israel, for the relationship and for the whole region," he was quoted as saying in a statement.
In addition to Israeli political obstacles, the Palestinian leadership has rejected the peace plan without seeing it, saying Trump's moves had shown him to be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.
Those moves include declaring the disputed city of Jerusalem Israel's capital and cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in Palestinian aid.
Jordan's King Abdullah II insisted during Kushner's visit Wednesday on the "need to intensify efforts to achieve a comprehensive and lasting peace based on the two-state solution, that would guarantee the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital."

The United States is expected to roll out the economic aspects of the peace plan at a conference in Bahrain on June 25-26, but Palestinian leaders say they will not attend.
Kushner next travels to Montreux, Switzerland and London, where he will be part of Trump's entourage during a visit there.
Separately, the White House announced US National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and Russian Secretary of the Security Council Nikolai Patrushev will meet in Jerusalem in June.
Those talks are likely to focus on Iran.

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First Published: May 30 2019 | 7:45 PM IST

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