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Pessimism as Kushner set for Israeli-Palestinian talks

The visit is part of a regional tour by Jared Kushner [Getty]

Date of publication: 24 August, 2017

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White House aide Jared Kushner will meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday with the aim of restarting long-stalled peace talks.

White House aide Jared Kushner meets Israeli and Palestinian leaders on Thursday with the aim of restarting long-stalled peace talks, but pessimism is high over US President Donald Trump's pledge to reach the "ultimate deal".

The visit comes with both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu not in position to make major concessions, some analysts say, and no details have emerged of how Trump's team would overcome that.

Trump also faces a range of crises in addition to controversies at home that may make it difficult for him to focus on the complexities of a major Israeli-Palestinian peace push.

"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 US official said.

"He remains optimistic that progress toward a deal can be achieved."

The visit is part of a regional tour by Kushner, who is also Trump's son-in-law, Trump aide Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell.

They have also held talks with Egyptian, Saudi, Emirati, Qatari and Jordanian officials.

"I think (Israeli-Palestinian conflict) clearly remains important, important enough that senior officials continue to engage on it, including Jared Kushner," Dan Shapiro, US ambassador to Israel under Barack Obama, told journalists this week.

"But given the very poor prospects of a significant political breakthrough, I'd be surprised it if warrants a major investment by the president."

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.

Trump aides have held a series of meetings with both sides, portraying them as hearing out concerns before deciding on a way forward, while the US president himself visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in May.

But Palestinian leaders note that the White House has not even said clearly whether its focus will be a two-state solution to the conflict, which has been longstanding US policy.

The two-state solution envisions an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and has been the focus of international diplomacy for years.

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