US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told opposition leader Isaac Herzog Tuesday that Washington intended to move fast to advance a renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, a spokesman for Herzog said, with Trump’s envoy Jason Greenblatt reportedly set to return next week so as not to leave a “diplomatic vacuum.”
Herzog met with Trump, Kushner and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for several minutes, after the US president’s speech at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem and just before Trump departed the country.
Kushner, who along with international negotiations envoy Greenblatt has been tasked by Trump with relaunching the peace process, reportedly told Herzog: “We are planning to move fast in starting a diplomatic process in order to reach a deal.”
According to Channel 10’s Moav Vardi, Kushner also said Greenblatt would be returning to Israel next week for followup discussions with the sides, reportedly telling Herzog that the US did not want to leave a “diplomatic vacuum.”
Greenblatt accompanied Trump during his two-day visit in Israel and had held a series of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian officials ahead of Trump’s arrival.
Trump, meanwhile, told Herzog, the Zionist Union leader: ““I am serious about a deal and I am determined.”
Herzog told Trump that Netanyahu would receive the support of the opposition in advancing the peace process.
Trump, in his speech at the Museum earlier, pushed for elusive peace between Israel and the Palestinians, calling on both sides to put aside the “pain and disagreements of the past.” He also said he believed the Palestinians “are ready to reach for peace.”
Trump met with both Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during his quick stop in the region. Speaking at the Israel Museum, he declared both sides ready to move forward, though he gave few tangible details of how the dormant peace process would be revived.
Trump and Netanyahu lavished praise on each other during their multiple meetings. The prime minister, who had a frosty relationship with Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama, leapt to his feet when the president declared Tuesday that his administration “will always stand with Israel.”
At the same time, Abbas and the Palestinians have been pleasantly surprised by their dealings with Trump. On Tuesday morning, Trump met with Abbas in Bethlehem. Abbas said he was eager to “keep the door open to dialogue with our Israeli neighbors.”
He reiterated the Palestinians’ demands, including establishing a capital in East Jerusalem, territory over which Israel claims sovereignty, insisting that “our problem is not with the Jewish religion, it’s with the occupation and settlements, and with Israel not recognizing the state of Palestine.”
Trump, meanwhile, issued implicit criticism of Palestinian funding for imprisoned terrorists, while praising the counterterrorism efforts of the PA and urging condemnation of terror attacks “in a single unified voice.”
He said a peace deal would trigger a cascade effect throughout the region: “I am truly hopeful that America can help Israel and the Palestinians forge peace and bring new hope to the region and its people. I also firmly believe that if Israel and the Palestinians can make peace, it can begin a process of peace all throughout the Middle East and that will be an amazing accomplishment.”
Trump’s comments reiterated his statements Monday to Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin and Netanyahu that many Arab states seek “a much deeper path to friendship with Israel” that can only move forward when peace with the Palestinians is achieved.