Trump Envoys Stop Over in Arab Countries on Way to Israel

YERUSHALAYIM -
Jason Greenblatt (L), and Jared Kushner during a press conference at the President’s Residence in Yerushalayim, May 22, 2017. (Thomas Coex/AFP/Getty Images)

A Trump administration delegation to the Mideast is holding meetings with Arab leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, prior to touching down in Israel on Wednesday night.

Presidential envoys Jared Kushner, deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell and Jason Greenblatt were heading the peacemaking mission, Politico reported on Tuesday, quoting a White House official.

The planned trip was announced over a week ago, but details had not been finalized and the press was not notified of their departure for the region on Monday.

“While everyone was busy gazing into the solar eclipse on Monday, White House adviser Jared Kushner quietly snuck away to the Middle East for a trip that will take him to the Persian Gulf and Israel,” is the way Politico described it. It was not clear, however, why the visit was not preceded by routine publicity.

The purpose of the trip, according to a White House official, was to “focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism, the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there,” and to explore economic measures to facilitate a peace deal.

Expectations for any breakthroughs toward an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement were low, in view of recent comments by Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas expressing frustration about getting his position across to the Americans.

“I have met with Trump envoys about 20 times since the beginning of his term as president of the United States,” Abbas said in a meeting with the Meretz party, according to Haaretz. “Every time they repeatedly stressed to me how much they believe and are committed to a two-state solution and a halt to construction in the settlements. I have pleaded with them to say the same thing to Netanyahu, but they refrained.”

“I can’t understand how they are conducting themselves with us,” Abbas added. “Inside [Trump’s] country, there is chaos in the administration.”

Nevertheless, President Trump was said to be hopeful about the prospects for progress toward peace now that the situation on Har HaBayis has calmed.