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Kushner heads back to Jerusalem for peace talks

Senior White House advisor Jared Kushner met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in Jerusalem on Wednesday after kicking off a major Middle East tour in Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

US Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, US Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, and Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer also attended the meeting.

Kushner is leading the US delegation to finalize the details of the United State’s $50 billion economic development plan for Arab Palestinians and the broader Middle East.

Netanyahu called the meeting “important,” but did not give further details about what was discussed.

The envoy will also visit Egypt, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates in the upcoming week.

Kushner will not meet with Palestinian leaders who are boycotting the peace effort even while most Middle East countries are encouraging them to participate.

The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Wednesday that Kushner will invite Arab leaders to an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit at Camp David before Israel’s elections on September 17.

The White House denied the report and said, “No summit has currently been planned. The Middle East team will report back to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and U.S. National Security Agency upon returning to discuss the many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop.”

The Trump Administrations has not given an official release date for the Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Ambassador Friedman told CNN in an interview that the US is “not ready to talk about a Palestinian state.”

“We believe in Palestinian autonomy, we believe in Palestinian self-governance. We believe that autonomy should be extended up until the point where it interferes with Israeli security,” he added.

Greenblatt and Hook also said in a co-authored opinion piece published by Fox News that Iran has an interest in ensuring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict continues.

“The Iranian regime is the core irritant that poses a direct threat to both regional and international security. The continuation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict benefits the Iranian regime’s expansionist ambitions. Terrorism and malevolent voyeurism are Iran’s foreign policy – dangerous follies that require the region’s full attention,” Greenblatt and Hook wrote.

“A successful comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is among the important tools we have to help bring regional stability and prevent Iranian terror. it would be Iran’s worst nightmare,” they continued.

Greenblatt said in a Twitter post that he still found time to pray during this significant trip to the Middle East.

“In the midst of a busy Middle East trip, grateful to have been able to spend a short while davening (praying) at the Kotel (Western Wall) this evening. Even though it was after midnight, plenty of others praying too.”