Pessimism as Kushner sets off for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Pessimism as Kushner sets off for Israeli-Palestinian talks

"It was agreed to continue the dialogue aimed at reaching a comprehensive and historic peace deal".

"President Trump has made it clear that it is a top priority for him to work toward achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians", a USA official said. An official said the talks would "focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combating extremism, the situation in Gaza, including how to ease the humanitarian crisis there".

According to the Israel Hayom report, Kushner promised Abbas that in their scheduled meeting at the United Nations in September, Trump would give a guarantee to his Palestinian counterpart that a peace plan would be put to both sides within four months.

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner in Jerusalem, May 22, 2017.

On Sunday, the White House dismissed a report in the pan-Arab Al Hayat newspaper, similarly sourced to an unnamed Palestinian official, that Kushner said he could not ask Israel to impose a West Bank settlement construction freeze because it would topple the Israeli government.

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Palestinian leaders have grown frustrated with the White House after initially holding out hope that Trump could bring a fresh approach to peace efforts despite his pledges of staunch support for Israel.

Most notably in a meeting with leftist Israeli lawmakers last week, Abbas noted that he'd met Trump's envoys "about 20 times" but they had failed to convey a commitment to a two-state solution to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to leaked comments.

However, Abbas stressed that negotiations should be based on the framework of a two-state solution and for illegal settlements to cease. "We know that things are hard and complicated, but there is nothing impossible with good efforts".

In his remarks carried by the official PA news outlet, Wafa, Kushner did not mention a two-state solution and only offered vague sentiments about peace in the future.

"I believe (Trump's) leverage has declined considerably, at least from the point-of-view of getting major concessions or a commitment to a major programme toward two states from the leaders, so that's why I think the shift should come to the more practical on-the-ground steps", he said.

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