Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt to visit Middle East to promote Palestinian economic development

From left to right, Ron Dermer, Jason Greenblatt, Jared Kushner, Benjamin Netanyahu, Dina Powell and David Friedman meet in Jerusalem, Aug. 24, 2017. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/Government Press Office 

Sam Sokol, JTA

JERUSALEM (JTA) President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and top adviser Jared Kushner is expected to visit the Middle East later this month as part of an effort to promote the economic side of the White House’s yet-to-be-unveiled Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

According to Haaretz, Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, the White House’s top Middle East negotiator, will visit several countries, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, to discuss economic issues related to the Palestinians within a “regional context.”

Trump has said the Gulf Arab nations should play a bigger role in assisting Palestinians even as the United States has cut back much of its assistance.

The Trump administration reportedly is holding off on revealing its peace plan until after Israel’s national election in April. Its officials have vigorously denied allegedly leaked accounts of its dimensions, although they have said it will have a detailed economic component aimed at improving Palestinian living conditions.

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The Palestinians have preemptively rejected the Trump proposal, which the President has dubbed the “deal of the century,” and have cut off Trump administration officials since December 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Trump’s subsequent decision to cut virtually all funding to the Palestinians has entrenched the Palestinian refusal to engage.

Greenblatt has subsequently entered into numerous Twitter battles with Palestinian leaders and recently accused the Palestinian Authority’s spokesman of being “both anti-Semitic & anti-Christian.”

Palestinian officials have in recent days suggested they may reconsider not engaging with the Trump administration, depending on what the plan offers.