Jul 21, 2019

Scoop: Kushner to travel to Israel, Arab countries for discussions on peace plan

Jared Kushner. Photo: Maciej Luczniewski/NurPhoto via Getty Images

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner will travel to Jerusalem and several other capitals in the Middle East next week to discuss how to move forward with the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials told me.

Why it matters: This will be an important trip for the progress of the U.S. peace plan — both the economic and political components. The White House is currently in discussions over the timing for revealing the political part of the U.S. peace plan, which has been thrown off as a result of new elections being called in Israel.

President Trump’s special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said in an interview with PBS last week that the White House is considering whether or not to release the political part of the peace plan before the Sept. 17 elections. Greenblatt said that no decision has been made and that President Trump will be the one to make the final call.

The big picture: Kushner will arrive in the region with Greenblatt; Brian Hook, the special envoy for Iran; and Avi Berkowitz, Kushner's deputy. U.S. officials said Kushner and his team are expected to visit Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the UAE, Qatar and Jerusalem, but that the final itinerary might still change.

  • The U.S. officials said the goal of the trip is to continue talks with Israel and the Arab countries about the economic part of the plan, which was presented during the Bahrain conference several weeks ago. It's also possible Kushner’s discussions in the region will deal with the political part of the peace plan.

One of the main items Kushner is seeking to promote during the upcoming trip is the establishment of a multinational fund that will bankroll and monitor the plan to boost the Palestinian economy through projects in the West Bank and Gaza.

  • U.S. officials told me that 2 weeks ago Kushner met with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and president of the World Bank David Malpass to discuss the establishment of the multinational fund.
  • Last week, Kushner met in Washington with the foreign minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, and proposed basing the fund in Manama. The Bahrainis agreed, but Kushner wants to get other Arab countries on board. Kushner also wants to hear from Arab leaders about how much money they are willing to donate to help boost the Palestinian economy.

Go deeper: My exclusive interview with Bahrain's foreign minister

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Trump set to decide whether to release peace plan before Israel votes

Kushner with Netanyahu. Photo: Kobi Gideon/GPO/Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President Trump is expected to decide by the end of August whether to release the political part of his Middle East peace plan before Israel's elections on Sept. 17, sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: There's a lot of skepticism in Washington and the Middle East about the plan's likelihood of success — but the release of its political elements could have significant influence on the Israeli elections and the formation of a governing coalition.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

Senate Democrats' request to probe WH security clearances rejected by watchdog

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration's intelligence watchdog rejected Senate Democrats' request to investigate the White House's handling of security clearances for employees including senior advisers Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, a letter obtained by NBC News Wednesday shows.

Details: In the July 22 letter, Michael Atkinson, inspector general of the intelligence community, told the Democrats he could only investigate the issue if the president requested it. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, and 3 other top Democrats sent President Trump a letter Wednesday, asking him to order a probe.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

House Oversight to subpoena White House private emails, WhatsApp messages

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

The House Oversight Committee voted along party lines Thursday to authorize subpoenas for official communications records sent via "non-official electronic messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House," including Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and former chief strategist Steve Bannon.

The big picture: Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Md.) previously requested that top White House officials voluntarily turn over all official communications sent via private channels, including Kushner's encrypted WhatsApp messages with foreign officials, to uphold the Presidential Records Act. The White House refused to cooperate and is likely to defy the new subpoenas, setting up yet another court fight.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019