Netanyahu says meeting with Kushner 'helpful, meaningful'

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On the eve of the visit, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that he still does not understand what is the US strategy regarding this effort that is ongoing.

"The Israeli government definitely feels it has a freer hand with Trump", said Anat Ben-Nun, a Peace Now staffer.

Her comments came as Palestinians have increasingly complained over the White House's refusal to endorse the two-state solution, breaking with longstanding USA policy and an global consensus.

PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki told British Secretary of State for the Middle East and North Africa Alistair Burt, "We convinced the global community that the best way to reach a state is through negotiations".

A couple dozen Palestinians protested the visit on Thursday in Ramallah, burning the Israeli flag and pictures of Trump.

Israel, meanwhile, has increasingly shifted its sights toward a regional deal with certain Arab countries, rather than one focusing exclusively on the Palestinians, an approach Trump has expressed support for. The White House, in pursuing a peace deal, has yet to lay out a framework for negotiations following multiple meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders. "They said they would consider it but then they didn't get back to me".

A U.S. official said earlier that Trump "remains optimistic that progress toward a deal can be achieved". They thought that it is very simple, and slowly, slowly they are learning that it is very complicated.

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But the Trump administration has refused to declare that as the goal of a peace process, eroding the willingness of Abbas to follow the White House's lead.

Trump aides have held a series of meetings with both sides, portraying them as hearing out concerns before deciding on a way forward, while the U.S. president himself visited Israel and the Palestinian territories in May. He also accompanied Trump to Jerusalem during the president's first trip in May.

Three months later, Netanyahu and Abbas face different political realities, and Trump's ability to jump-start negotiations may be dwindling.

Kushner, the 36-year-old commercial real estate magnate whose marriage to Trump's eldest daughter has thrust the otherwise inexperienced diplomat into the center of United States foreign relations, now wields a hefty foreign affairs portfolio in the Trump administration. US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is also meeting with the prime minister.

"I don't see him in a position to be forward-leaning and creative and particularly interested in the details of peacemaking, especially given the long odds based on the circumstances of the other two leaders", Shapiro said of Trump.

Shapiro said the USA should "recalibrate" the USA team's efforts from striking a peace deal to Palestinian institution building and economic development to prepare the Palestinians for future statehood. And if Trump pressures both leaders to come to the negotiating table, they may find it hard to refuse.

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