On the second leg of his regional tour, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner has met with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman for talks on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as Washington prepares to unveil what it calls the deal of the century.
During the Wednesday meeting in Saudi Arabia, which took place in the presence of US special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenbelt, the two sides exchanged views on Washington-Riyadh bilateral ties as well as the Palestinian issue, according to a statement from the White House.
Kushner kicked off his tour on Tuesday in Amman, where he and Greenblatt sat down for talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II. A day earlier, the king of Jordan had met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss the so-called peace process.
The US delegation is also scheduled to visit Israel, Egypt and Qatar, but no stop has been planned in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is based.
The US-Palestine ties deteriorated last December, when Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of Israel and announced plans to transfer the embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.
Israel lays claim to the whole Jerusalem al-Quds, but the international community views the city’s eastern sector as an occupied territory and Palestinians consider it as the capital of their future state.
The contentious move led President Mahmoud Abbas to formally declare that Palestinians would no longer accept the US as a mediator to resolve the conflict because Washington was “completely biased” towards Tel Aviv.
The Palestinian Authority, which has frozen contacts with Washington due its bias in favor of Tel Aviv, is working to form an international mediation mechanism to replace the US.
PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said last week that US struggles to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are “doomed to fail,” and that the regional tour by Kushner and Greenblatt would produce “no results.”
The Saudi regime has long been seeking to depict itself as an advocate of the Palestinian cause, but reports over the past months suggest that the kingdom under bin Salman is helping the US behind the scenes to impose the hugely pro-Israel “peace” plan on Palestinians.
Late last year, the Saudi crown prince was reported to have put pressure on Abbas to accept the plan being drawn up by Kushner.
On a trip to New York in April where he met with several Jewish leaders, bin Salman said that Palestinians should either accept peace proposals or “shut up.”
The prospects of peace between Israelis and Palestinians sank further last month when the US defied international criticisms and went on to open its embassy in Jerusalem al-Quds on May 14, in what appeared to be an intentional coincidence with the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day marking the expulsion by Israel of Palestinians from their motherland.
The opening ceremony took place amid a bloody Israeli crackdown on anti-occupation protesters in Gaza.
The last round of Israeli-Palestinian talks collapsed in 2014. Among the major sticking points in those negotiations was Israel’s continued settlement expansion on occupied Palestinian territories.
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