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June 19, 2017 4:44 pm

As Top Trump Aides Kushner and Greenblatt Depart for Israel, White House Cautions That ‘Forging Historic Peace Agreement Will Take Time’

avatar by Ben Cohen

Trump senior adviser Jared Kushner is traveling this week to Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Photo: Screenshot.

The White House is dispatching two of President Donald Trump’s key advisers to Jerusalem and Ramallah this week in a bid to revive direct Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations – at the same time urging patience for their efforts on the grounds that “forging a historic peace agreement will take time.”

Trump’s international negotiations representative Jason Greenblatt arrived in the region on Monday, while Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, will fly in on Wednesday. Their purpose, the White House said, was “to continue conversations and hear directly from [Israeli] Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and his senior advisers and [Palestinian Authority] President [Mahmoud] Abbas and his senior advisers about their priorities and potential next steps.”

Notably, the White House statement concentrated entirely on creating conditions for direct negotiations, and did not mention any of the substantive issues – such as the status of Jerusalem, the Palestinian refugee question and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state — that have proved to be insurmountable in previous attempts to reach a final agreement.

“To the extent that there is progress, there are likely to be many visits by both Mr. Kushner and Mr. Greenblatt, sometimes together and sometimes separately, to the region and possibly many trips by Israeli and Palestinian negotiators to Washington D.C. or other locations as they pursue substantive talks,” the White House said.

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“We will continue to communicate with the relevant constituencies throughout the region, to remind all that peace is possible and to demonstrate the many positive benefits that would arise from a successful negotiations (sic),” the statement concluded.

Trump and his close advisers have long held the view that the United States should play only a mediating role in any Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, with the parties themselves determining the subjects for discussion.

In a November 2016 interview with The Algemeiner on the eve of the presidential election, David Friedman, who now serves as the US ambassador to Israel, said the goal of a Trump administration would be “to respect Israel as a partner, and not to unduly influence its decisions.”

“The critical thing is to recognize that there is not going to be any progress on a Palestinian state until the Palestinians renounce violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state,” Friedman said at the time. “Until that happens, there is really nothing to talk about in terms of a political process.”

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