US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser Jared Kushner on Wednesday brought the president’s personal condolences to the family of a border guard officer stabbed to death last week in Jerusalem as he arrived in Israel for a one-day visit.
The visit to the family of Staff Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka, 23, was the first stop for Kushner before a series of meetings aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Kushner was joined by US Ambassador David Friedman on the visit. Kushner said Trump asked him to personally convey the condolences of the American people.
Malka was killed in an assault by three Palestinian attackers near the Old City on Friday evening. The three men were shot dead by Israeli forces.
Kushner and US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt were to meet with later with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and afterwards with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in his Ramallah headquarters in the West Bank. Trump has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the “ultimate deal.” Deep divisions remain, however, clouding the chances of a significant breakthrough.
This month marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war — a seminal event in which Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim these areas for a future independent state.
After two decades of failed US-led peace efforts, Palestinian statehood seems distant. Greenblatt has already made several visits. Kushner will fly back to the US Wednesday night whereas Greenblatt is scheduled to stay for another day.
Thousands attended Malka’s funeral Saturday night. Netanyahu, visiting her grieving family on Sunday, called Malka “everybody’s daughter and everybody’s hero.” He also criticized Abbas for not condemning the attack.
It was the latest incident in a wave of Palestinian attacks that began in September 2015. Since then, Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans, a Palestinian and a British student, mainly in stabbing attacks. Some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the same period, most identified as attackers by Israel.