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Senior US officials to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders

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Key officials in the US administration are holding meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders as part of ongoing attempts to broker peace and do “the ultimate deal”.

Jared Kushner, a senior advisor and son-in-law of President Trump, will meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem today before going to Ramallah to meet Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas. He wants to hear from both how they would like to move forward in renewing the peace process.

Along with Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, Kushner  will expect to hear from both leaders on core issues such as borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, and settlements.

Yesterday, Greenblatt met Netanyahu’s confidante and former peace envoy Isaac Molcho and Palestinian officials close to Abbas.

Speaking at the Herzliya Policy Conference yesterday Finance Minister Kahlon revealed that the American administration was putting pressure on the sides to reach a deal.

He said: “All of us understand that there will be two states, but don’t wish to say this…I don’t think that the Palestinians are ready, they want to pass these years settling things themselves, addressing their internal opposition and economy.”

Kahl on added: “I don’t see them rushing to an agreement, but this is the vision. Now there is American pressure to advance a process: the U.S. and the Trump Administration feel that they can, perhaps on account of good relations and trust, to get involved and pressure Israel to reach a process – I don’t think that Netanyahu is opposed to talks.”

In related news, Israel began work yesterday on the first new settlement in the West Bank in 20 years. The new settlement, Amichai, will accommodate some 40 families whose homes were cleared from the illegal outpost of Amona. Settlements remain a key sticking point in peace negotiations.

Netanyahu said: “Today, ground works began, as I promised, for the establishment of the new community for the residents of Amona. After decades, I have the privilege to be the Prime Minister who is building a new community in Judea and Samaria.”

Building plans will still need to go through several stages of planning approval.

Nabil Abu Rudeina, a spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters that the move was “a grave escalation and an attempt to foil efforts” by the Trump Administration to revive the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.