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Talks very important for Israel's security, says PM

Kushner, Greenblatt meet with Netanyahu on peace push, Gaza

US envoys wrap up Middle East tour after whirlwind visits to Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd from right) meets at his Jerusalem office with the ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer (right); White House adviser Jared Kushner (center); US Ambassador David Friedman (second left); and special envoy Jason Greenblatt, on June 22, 2018. (Haim Zach/GPO)

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner and his special envoy Jason Greenblatt met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday in Jerusalem, on the final leg of a Middle East tour aimed at promoting the US administration’s as-yet-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace plan and securing humanitarian relief for the Gaza Strip.

“They discussed the means by which the humanitarian situation in Gaza can be alleviated, while maintaining Israel’s security. They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump Administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the White House said in a statement after the meeting.

The Prime Minister’s Office said Netanyahu expressed his admiration for Trump and the US president’s support of Israel during the meeting.

“The teams discussed advancing the peace process, regional developments and the security and humanitarian situation in Gaza,” the PMO said.

Netanyahu called the meeting “very important” to Israel’s security and future.

In addition to Netanyahu, Kushner and Greenblatt, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer also took part in the meeting.

Kushner and Greenblatt are scheduled to remain in the Jewish state through Saturday for talks with Israeli leaders.

The two US envoys over the past several days have visited Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar in a whirlwind tour.

The US peace team’s trip to Amman on Tuesday came a day after Netanyahu made a rare visit to Jordan for talks with King Abdullah II, after months of strained ties.

Readouts from the White House following the series of meetings with Arab leaders have signaled the American officials were focusing talks on their impending peace push and the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.

US officials have said their peace plan is near completion and could be released this summer. But it faces resistance from the Palestinians, who have cut off ties with the US since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December, and then moved the US embassy there in May.

In this June 21, 2018 photo, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, center, meets with US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, second left, and Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt during a regional tour to discuss a blueprint for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, in Cairo, Egypt. (MENA via AP)

No talks with the Palestinians are scheduled during Kushner and Greenblatt’s trip.

The Trump administration is seeking to convince moderate Arab allies to put pressure on the Palestinians to negotiate on the basis of the US peace proposal.

On Thursday, Kushner and Greenblatt met with Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi. The Egyptian leader called for a “just and comprehensive settlement” to the conflict, which he said would mean a “two-state solution on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as the capital of the state of Palestine.”

Later in the day, the pair also sat down with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani.

On Wednesday, the team met with Saudi Arabia’s crown prince.

Kushner and Greenblatt’s trip also comes after weeks of deadly violence along the Gaza border, with tens of thousands of Palestinians taking part in the ongoing Hamas-backed “March of Return” protests at the border.

Before they left for the visit, a senior administration official told The Times of Israel the two envoys would meet with regional stakeholders to discuss “the situation in Gaza and to discuss the next stages of the peace effort, as well as get some ideas from players in the region about some remaining questions the White House peace team has.”

Gaza faces shortages of electricity and drinkable water. Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade on the Strip that they say is designed to prevent Hamas from importing weapons and other goods that could be used to build military equipment or cross-border tunnels.

Eric Cortellessa contributed to this report.

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