Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 16 June 2019

Jared Kushner meets Saudi King Salman to discuss Middle East peace plan

White House senior adviser is on regional tour to US promote formula for ending Palestinian-Israeli conflict

White House senior advisor- and President Trump's son-in-law - Jared Kushner met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reuters
White House senior advisor- and President Trump's son-in-law - Jared Kushner met with Saudi Arabia's King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. Reuters

Saudi King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met White House adviser Jared Kushner this week and discussed US President Donald Trump’s plan Middle East peace plan.

"Building on previous conversations, they discussed increasing co-operation between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and the Trump administration's efforts to facilitate peace between the Israelis and Palestinians," the White House said.

The meeting in Riyadh on Tuesday is part of Mr Kushner's six-day tour of the region in which he is expected to seek support for the plan, which has not yet been made public. The White House adviser, who is also Mr Trump's son-in-law, is accompanied by the US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt and the US special representative for Iran Brian Hook.

Mr Kushner has already met leaders in the UAE, Bahrain and Oman and held talks with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Turkey on Wednesday.Details of the plan are not expected to be unveiled until after the Israeli elections in April, but in an interview with SkyNews Arabia in Abu Dhabi, Mr Kushner said it was based on four core principles: freedom, respect, opportunity and security.

He earlier outlined the plan to countries attending the Middle East security conference in Warsaw this month. Top officials of Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain — none of whom recognise Israel — attended the Warsaw conference alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who called the talks a "turning point".

But the Palestinians rejected the meeting as an American attempt to "normalise" the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.

The Palestinians have refused to talk to the Trump administration since the US president recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 — a move in direct violation of UN law and the 1967 borders Arab states consider the bare minimum when discussing Palestinian statehood.

The Trump administration has since dealt a series of blows to the Palestinian Authority, including cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for the Palestinians.

Despite the meeting with Mr Kushner, King Salman has rejected some Arab concerns that Saudi Arabia could back a US deal that heavily favoured Israel.

During his opening address to the first Arab League-EU summit this week, the Saudi monarch said the Palestinian issue was the “first concern” for Arab countries.

“We reaffirm our firm position towards the restoration of all the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, foremost of which is the establishment of an independent Palestinian State on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital,” he said.

King Salman frequently meets and speaks to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to receive updates on the latest developments in Palestine.

Updated: February 28, 2019 11:54 PM