White House senior adviser Jared Kushner canceled his visit to Jerusalem for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum at the last minute Wednesday.
A White House official cited weather related issues in Davos, Switzerland, where Kushner was accompanying US President Donald Trump for the World Economic Forum. The official said the weather delays “made an already tight schedule not possible.”
Kushner, who had been set to arrive Wednesday evening, will instead return to Washington, where the Senate has begun Trump’s impeachment trial.
Though Kushner will not be in Israel, Vice President Mike Pence is set to arrive Thursday for events at Yad Vashem marking 75 years since the liberation of Auschiwtz. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived earlier on Wednesday, with a delegation of seven Democrats and one Republican representative.
Kushner, who is also Trump’s son-in-law, had been expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party chairman Benny Gantz, amid growing speculation the US administration could soon release its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
According to an Axios report, Trump’s peace team is currently weighing whether it will release its long-awaited plan before the March 2 elections in Israel.
Over the course of the last two elections in 2019, Trump officials repeatedly said they would wait until Israel’s democratic process resolved itself before unveiling the proposal. With a third election on the way, the White House could end up shelving the plan indefinitely, not wanting to release it in the middle of America’s 2020 presidential election cycle.
Officials told Axios there were several factors that would influence the decision, including developments in the president’s impeachment and conversations Kushner has with Middle Eastern and other world leaders at Davos, as well as his (now canceled) talks with Israeli leaders in Jerusalem.
Publishing the plan now could be a boost to Netanyahu, especially if it is favorable to Israel.
Gantz had said the United States should wait until after the election, but on Tuesday reversed himself.
“I hope the president will move up [the roll-out] and I expect the plan will be released very soon. Several weeks have passed. A lot of dramatic things are happening in the Middle East, and I look forward to the publication of the plan,” he told reporters while touring the Jordan Valley.
Gantz also said he would push to extend Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley “in coordination with the international community” after the upcoming elections.
Netanyahu later voiced support for a Knesset vote in the coming weeks to apply Israeli sovereignty over the area.
But according to a Channel 13 news report Wednesday, the Trump administration opposes any unilateral Israeli moves in the West Bank — such as extending sovereignty to the Jordan Valley — before the release of its peace plan.