As the US envoy General Anthony Zinni in the Qatari crisis wrapped up his visit to the GCC countries and Egypt today, the Trump administration announced it would be dispatching a high level delegation which includes the President’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to the Middle East.
A delegation including Mr Kushner, US envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian Peace process Jason Greenblatt, and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell will be headed to the Middle East in the coming days, a White House spokesperson confirmed.
While the timetable for the trip has not been made public yet, the spokesperson said that the three-member-delegation will meet with leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, “to continue discussions on how to support peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians”.
“The President has asked that the discussions focus on the path to substantive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, combatting extremism, addressing the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and determining economic steps to ensure a peace deal offers security, stability and prosperity for the region” said the official.
Such meetings make it likely that the officials will visit GCC capitals, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian territories. It has been reported that the delegation is expected to arrive in Israel the last week of August.
Eric Trager, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said “the deeper involvement of the White House in these regional matters reflects the priority that the administration is putting on getting an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal and resolving the GCC rift.”
“It likely reflects the administration's desire to stay focused on these issues while Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who had been managing the GCC file until now, is focused on the standoff with North Korea,” he added.
On their chances of achieving a breakthrough, the expert was unable to be positive, saying: “I wish them luck...but the peace process is stalling and the GCC is divided because of political factors within the region -- not because Washington hasn't given these matters sufficient high-level attention.”