Kushner heading to Mideast for peace talks

Jared Kushner
FILE- In this Jan. 22, 2017, file photo, President Donald Trump's White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner watches as President Donald Trump, left, congratulates other White House senior staff during a swearing in ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington. Their reputations at risk, a coterie of President Donald Trump's associates caught up in the swirling debate about Trump and Russia are turning to a similar if unusual playbook: volunteering to testify to Congress, before even being asked. Kushner, told the Senate intelligence panel he'd gladly answer questions about his meetings with the Russian ambassador and others. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Jared Kushner is traveling to the Middle East this week to continue work toward a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

A White House official said the senior aide and son-in-law to President Donald Trump will arrive on Wednesday for meetings in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s international envoy, will arrive on Monday.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Kushner and Greenblatt will hear from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and other senior officials during the trip.

“They’re going to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and senior officials on his team, they’re going to meet with President Abbas and officials on his team later in the week and I think part of it is how to make incremental change that results in a lasting peace,” he told reporters.

Trump made a personal appeal for peace during a visit to Israel last month. He has cast Middle East peace as the “ultimate deal,” putting Kushner and Greenblatt in charge of the charting the course.

Spicer said the visit was aimed at building on the relationships forged during the previous trip.

“Part of this is really to utilize the trust that has been built up and not have these negotiations out in public,” he added. “But I think they had a very successful visit when the president was over there and they’re going to continue to build on that,” he said.

In remarks in the Middle East, Trump called on both sides to put aside the “pain and disagreements of the past.” But he did not offer any details on how to move forward and avoided issues that have stymied all previous attempts at a peace agreement, including the status of Jerusalem, Israeli settlement construction and the Palestinians’ demand for a sovereign nation.

Former Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama all tried and failed to achieve a peace deal.

The White House official — who was not authorized to speak publicly about the trip — said an agreement will take time, adding that there are likely to be many more visits by Kushner and Greenblatt to the region, as they seek common ground.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that Kushner was making the trip.