Kushner to visit Middle East to garner backing for peace plan - Kogonuso

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Feb 8, 2019

Kushner to visit Middle East to garner backing for peace plan

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House senior adviser, is expected to head to the Middle East later this month for an official visit to discuss a US proposal for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kushner, 38, will be joined by US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, US envoy on Iran Brian Hook and other administration officials who have worked on the economic part of the plan, dubbed the "deal of the century".

The trip - which includes stops in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, is aimed at building support for the initiative which Kushner has been tasked with leading.

The plan revolves around a proposal that foresees major infrastructure and industrial work, particularly in the besieged Gaza Strip.

For the plan to succeed or even pass the starting gate, it will need at least initial buy-in from both Israel and the Palestinians as well as from the Gulf Arab states, which officials say will be asked to substantially bankroll the economic portion.

Officials said they believed that the Arab diplomats Kushner will meet will want to know elements of the political component before backing the economic plan.

"They're not going to support the economic plan without making sure they also support the political plan, and we recognise that. So the support, I'm sure in some manner, will be conditioned on whether they are comfortable with the political plan," one official was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC, said the Trump administration is likely to run into a few hurdles when having to deal with Palestinians after it unilaterally decided to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

"The great stumbling block still ahead in the face of any emergent peace plan is the fact that the Palestinian leadership continues to boycott any Trump administration officials because of Trump's illegal recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Hanna said.

Release of the Trump peace plan has since been put on hold.

The current thinking among White House officials is that the peace plan will be unveiled sometime after Israel holds elections on April 9 that will decide the fate of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Thursday, Kushner is set to take part in a discussion on how to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Polish capital Warsaw.

During the discussion with Borge Brende, president of the World Economic Forum, he is expected to give an update on the peace effort and what the administration hopes to accomplish in the coming weeks and months.

In Warsaw, Kushner will be attending a gathering that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said will focus on Middle East stability and efforts to keep Iran from being a destabilising influence in the region.

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