A US delegation headed by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, along with Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt, arrived in Israel on Wednesday night on a trip to lay the groundwork for the economic section of the administration’s peace plan, just hours before the Knesset voted to dissolve and hold second elections in September.
The Trump administration purposefully set its peace plan launch for after coalition negotiations, when Israel has a functioning government, and it isn’t clear if the date will change now that the country is again going to the polls.
Kushner and Greenblatt are due to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Thursday.
Kushner and Greenblatt met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman on Wednesday as the administration tries to rally support for its Bahrain conference next month. The official Petra news agency said the two parties “discussed regional developments, especially efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Back in Israel this evening – it’s been a long time…. Grateful to have had the opportunity to daven (pray) at the Kotel (Western Wall) this evening. Lots to pray for!! pic.twitter.com/Up8nfACyWz
— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) May 29, 2019
The king restated his commitment to the two-state solution, with the formation of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel, a position that appears to be at odds with Trump’s still undisclosed “deal of the century.”
Abdullah insisted 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.”
Jordan, a key US ally, has not yet said whether it will attend the June 25-26 meeting in Manama, capital of the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain. The Palestinians have said they will not attend the summit, rejecting it as heavily biased in favor of Israel.
Kushner, who arrived in the Jordanian capital Amman from Morocco, has said the Bahrain conference will focus on the economic foundations of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The conference will not include core political issues, such as Palestinian statehood.
Reliant on American political and military support, it will be difficult for Jordan to reject the invitation. But with most of its people of Palestinian descent and the kingdom bordering the West Bank, it will be difficult to embrace a plan that does not include a Palestinian state.
Any perception that Jordan is selling out the interests of the Palestinians would be deeply unpopular and possibly even destabilizing.
Greenblatt and Kushner met with Morocco’s King Mohammed VI on Tuesday and discussed Morocco’s support for the peace conference. Moroccan officials declined commenting on Kushner’s visit.
The White House has billed the Bahrain conference as “a pivotal opportunity… to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
But Palestinian political leaders say they will boycott it and Palestinian business leaders said they won’t go either, raising further questions about the plan’s viability.
For now, the Americans are pinning their hopes on wealthy Gulf states, led by Saudi Arabia, hoping their regional influence and deep pockets can make the conference a success.
The Saudis, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, along with host Bahrain, have accepted invitations to attend. This has fueled Palestinian jitters that they will come under heavy pressure to accept large sums of money in exchange for freezing or abandoning aspirations for an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.
In accepting the invitation to the Bahrain conference, Gulf countries have been careful to express solidarity with the Palestinians but have also signaled flexibility.