Trump envoys, Netanyahu discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, June 17, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/Pool

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior Middle East envoys met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to discuss Israeli-Palestinian peace prospects, the White House said, after holding separate talks with Arab leaders.

Washington has said it has a peace plan in the works that could be released soon. Israeli-Palestinian negotiations stalled in 2014 over disputes that have deepened with bloodshed in Gaza and the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Top Trump adviser Jared Kushner, Middle East emissary Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman held a four-hour meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Israeli aides said. Israel’s envoy to Washington, Ron Dermer, also attended.

The White House said they discussed humanitarian relief for the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians have since March 30 held weekly, sometimes violent protests against Israel, drawing Israeli army fire. At least 128 Palestinians have been killed.

“They further discussed the continued commitment of the Trump administration and Israel to advance peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” the White House said in a statement.

Netanyahu’s office put out a similar summary that referred to prospective Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking more generally as “the diplomatic process”. Israeli officials have said they want any new negotiations to entail wide engagement with Arab powers.

Kushner and Greenblatt’s trip to Jerusalem followed a regional tour that included Jordan and Egypt – Israel’s neighbors and peace partners – and Qatar, a Gulf state that has helped fund humanitarian aid to Gaza. They also held talks in Saudi Arabia, which does not recognize Israel but shares its enmity toward Iran.

The U.S. envoys did not have any meetings scheduled with the Palestinians, who suspended ties with Trump in December over his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Palestinians want their own future state with a capital in East Jerusalem.

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