Kushner arrives in Middle East to try for Israeli-Palestinian breakthrough
By: Associated Press
Source: The Chicago Tribune
President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, arrived Wednesday for a daylong visit aimed at restarting long-dormant Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
Kushner was to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Trump has tasked Kushner with the ambitious goal of laying the groundwork for what he calls the “ultimate deal.” Deep divisions remain, however, clouding the chances of a significant breakthrough.
This month marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war — a seminal event in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim these areas for a future independent state.
After two decades of failed U.S.-led peace efforts, Palestinian statehood seems distant. Envoy Jason Greenblatt has already made several visits.
Upon his arrival, Kushner immediately paid a condolence visit to the family of a young female police officer who was killed by Palestinians attackers over the weekend near Jerusalem’s Old City. Kushner said Trump asked him to personally convey the condolences of the American people.
Three Palestinian attackers armed with an automatic weapon and knives assaulted officers on duty near the Old City in two locations Friday evening.
Police said Staff Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka, 23, was rushing to respond to the initial attack nearby when a Palestinian assaulted her with a knife. Malka wrestled with the man for several seconds as he stabbed her multiple times before other officers saw what was happening and opened fire, killing him, police said. She later died of her wounds in hospital.
Thousands attended her funeral Saturday night. Netanyahu visited her grieving family on Sunday and called Malka “everybody’s daughter and everybody’s hero.” He also criticized Abbas for not condemning the attack.
It was the latest incident in a wave of Palestinian attacks that began in September 2015. Since then, Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing attacks. Some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the same period, most identified as attackers by Israel.