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Netanyahu says meeting with Kushner ‘helpful, meaningful’

Trump hails parley between high-level US and Israeli officials, says ties between two countries ‘stronger than ever’

L-R: Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US President Donald Trump's Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meet in Tel Aviv on August 24, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
L-R: Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, US Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman meet in Tel Aviv on August 24, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday evening that meetings with a high-level delegation of US officials earlier in the day were “helpful and meaningful.”

Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy Dina Powell met with Netanyahu as part of a visit to the region in a bid to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts.

In a statement, the prime minister said he and the visiting US delegation “discussed ways to promote peace and prosperity in the region.”

“The talks were helpful and meaningful,” the Hebrew statement said, adding that Netanyahu “expects the talks to continue in the coming weeks.”

The statement added that “the Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to President [Donald] Trump and the Trump administration for its strong support of Israel.”

Trump hailed Kushner and Netanyahu after the three-and-a-half hour meeting, writing in an Instagram post that “there is no doubt that our relationship with you is stronger than ever! See you soon.”

“Lets advance #Peace, #Prosperity and #Security in the area,” he wrote.

Speaking alongside Kushner before the start of their meeting at IDF Headquarters in the Kirya military headquarters compound in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu said he believed peace was “within our reach.”

“We have a lot of things to talk about. How to advance peace, stability and security in our region — prosperity too — and I think all of them are within our reach,” he said.

“So I am happy to see you and the effort you’re leading on behalf of the [US] President [Donald Trump] with Jason [Greenblatt] and other members of your team,” the prime minister said. “I think this is a sign of the great alliance between us and the great goals that guide us.”

Kushner told Netanyahu that Trump is “very committed” to help broker a peace deal and thanked the prime minister for working with the White House toward that goal.

“The president is very committed to achieving a solution here that will be able to bring prosperity and peace to all people in this area,” he said. “We really appreciate the commitment of the prime minister and his team to engaging very thoughtfully and and respectfully in the way that the president has asked him to do so.”

Kushner also said “the relationship between Israel and America is stronger than ever and we really thank Prime Minister Netanyahu for his leadership and his partnership.”

The US delegation’s visit to the region comes as Palestinian figures have become more vocal in expressing disappointment in Washington’s unclear approach to peace efforts so far.

Kushner was meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday night.

A spokesman for Abbas called the meeting “important and crucial”.

A US official said earlier that Trump “remains optimistic that progress toward a deal can be achieved.”

A couple dozen Palestinians protested the visit on Thursday in Ramallah, burning the Israeli flag and pictures of Trump.

After initially welcoming the election of Trump, the Palestinians have expressed increasing frustration with what they say is a failure by the US president to offer a clear vision for peace. Specifically, they are seeking a halt in Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands, and an American commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as part of a peace deal with Israel.

“The US envoys come empty handed,” said Mahmoud Alloul, a top official in Abbas’ Fatah movement. “That’s why we will ask them whether they have answers about the basic issues. We will not deal with marginal issues.”

Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki told the Voice of Palestine radio station on Thursday that the Palestinians would be seeking “clear answers” from Kushner on settlements and independence.

“Their answers to these questions will enable us to say if we have a historical chance for a peace process that can end the occupation or these visits are no more than a waste of time,” Malki said.

As reported by The Times of Israel

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