Israel starts work on new West Bank settlement

Trump's senior aide and son-in-law Jared Kushner and envoy Jason Greenblatt are in Israel this week.

Kusher, a senior advisor to President Donald Trump as well as the president's Jewish son-in-law, arrived in Israel on Wednesday to lead the Trump administration's push for restarted peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Together they will "spearhead the peace effort" the USA administration believes is possible, a White House official said. "The Palestinians can hear me say no and refuse some requests, but whenever daily life can be improved, I am there".

The December resolution, put forward by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal a day after Egypt withdrew it under pressure from Israel and Trump, was the first adopted by on Israel and the Palestinians in almost eight years.

More than 600,000 Jews live in about 140 settlements built since Israel's 1967 occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem - land the Palestinians claim for a future state. He has not even been clear about whether he supports a two-state solution - the cornerstone of worldwide diplomatic efforts for the past two decades.

The new settlement is meant to house residents of the West Bank outpost of Amona after it was demolished in February.

When Trump visited Jerusalem on May 22-23, he studiously avoided any mention of settlements, at least in public. Some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire during the same period, a lot of them identified as attackers by Israel.

Israel has also demanded that the Palestinians stop making welfare payments to families of militants who are either imprisoned or were killed while committing attacks on Israelis.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, will come under pressure to halt what Israel sees as incitement to violence in their official media, speeches and social media.

On Monday, Greenblatt tweeted that he prayed for peace at Jerusalem's Western Wall and paid a condolence call to the family of an Israeli border policewoman killed by Palestinians last week.

Kushner is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu in Jerusalem and afterwards, to go to the Palestinian West Bank to meet with Abbas.

Unnamed White House officials cited by several news sources have reiterated that an agreement between the Israelis and Palestinians is a priority for the Trump administration.

"He offered the condolences to the bereaved family from the USA president, who spoke to his son-in-law on the way and asked that he be kept updated about the visit", a close friend of the Malka family told Israel's Ynet news.

Through U.S. mediators, Israel and Saudi Arabia have discussed a variety of potential actions that would show their intention to develop open diplomatic relations once the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved, Kara said.

  • Leroy Wright