Kushner heads to Mideast to press US peace plan

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner (centre) will head to the Middle East to push a peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians. (AFP pic)

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner is heading to the Middle East, the White House said Tuesday, signalling a fresh push on a long-promised but yet to be delivered peace plan for the region.

Kushner is accompanied by Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, and Brian Hook, the special US representative for Iran, the White House said.

They “will travel from May 27 to May 31 to Rabat, Amman, and Jerusalem,” said a White House official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The Trump administration is expected to unveil the long-awaited plan – after numerous failures by their predecessors – possibly as early as next month, but the Palestinians have already rejected it as heavily biased in favour of Israel.

Washington has yet to commit to an exact timetable with respect to the political aspects of the plan.

Kushner is the chief architect of the proposals and Greenblatt, a longtime Trump lawyer, has served as his right-hand man on the Middle East initiative.

Kushner’s trip comes just days after Trump authorised US$8.1 billion in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Arab allies, bypassing Congress.

Kushner has looked to an alliance with the Saudis against Iran as a way to gain Arab support for his Middle East peace plan.

Congress had frozen arms sales to the kingdom after the assassination of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi in October and concerns over the human toll of a Saudi-led campaign in Yemen.

But the administration defended the sales as necessary “to deter Iranian aggression and build partner self-defence capacity.”