Kushner Met With Saudi Crown Prince to Push Mideast Peace Plan
ISTANBUL — Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, met with the Saudi king and crown prince during a tour of the Middle East to try to build momentum for his long-awaited plan for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the White House said in a statement on Wednesday.
The meeting, held on Tuesday, was Mr. Kushner’s first face-to-face encounter with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the day-to-day ruler of Saudi Arabia, since Saudi agents killed the dissident Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul in October.
The Trump administration has stood by Prince Mohammed, who has forged a strong relationship with Mr. Kushner, even after American intelligence agencies concluded that the prince most likely ordered the killing.
The White House statement did not mention Mr. Khashoggi, a Saudi citizen who lived in Virginia. His killing has tarnished Prince Mohammed’s reputation and spurred efforts in Congress to punish the kingdom. The White House issued its statement a day after the meeting took place, as public attention was dominated by congressional testimony by Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former fixer.
Mr. Kushner’s visit to Saudi Arabia was closely watched across the region, in part because he was expected to solicit Saudi help for the administration’s peace plan. The Trump administration, in avoiding direct criticism of the crown prince, has argued that Saudi Arabia is a necessary ally in the Middle East and that its weapons purchases help the American economy.
Mr. Kushner, King Salman and Prince Mohammed, the White House statement said, discussed the peace efforts, as well as American-Saudi cooperation and plans to improve conditions in the region through investment.
It remains unclear what the administration’s peace plan will look like and how much the Saudis will support it.
King Salman hosted President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority this week and declared that his country “permanently stands by Palestine and its people’s right to an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
The status of East Jerusalem, which both the Israelis and Palestinians claim, is one of the most contentious issues in the conflict, and Mr. Kushner has given no indication of how his plan will deal with it.
In a rare interview with Sky News Arabia this week, Mr. Kushner described the plan as “very detailed, very in-depth” and said it would “allow people to put the conflicts of the past behind them and to move forward and look forward to a really prosperous and exciting future.”
Analysts who have followed the plan’s development said they had been told that it involved investing around $ 25 billion in the West Bank and Gaza over 10 years and an additional $ 40 billion in Egypt, Jordan and perhaps Lebanon, depending on their ability to meet certain goals. Others who have spoken with Mr. Kushner have disputed those amounts but agreed that the plan included investments of tens of billions of dollars in the region.
It is expected that most of that money would come from the region’s wealthiest states, among them Saudi Arabia. Mr. Kushner’s other destinations this week include the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.
On Wednesday, he met in Turkey with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.