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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

Go deeper

OIG: HHS misused millions of dollars intended for public health threats

Vaccine vials. Photo: Punit Paranjpe/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel alerted the White House and Congress on Wednesday of an investigation that found the Department of Health and Human Services misused millions of dollars that were budgeted for vaccine research and public health emergencies for Ebola, Zika and now the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why it matters: The more than 200-page investigation corroborated claims from a whistleblower, showing the agency's violation of the Purpose Statute spanned both the Obama and Trump administrations and paid for unrelated projects like salaries, news subscriptions and the removal of office furniture.

John Kerry: U.S.-China climate cooperation is a "critical standalone issue"

President Biden's special climate envoy John Kerry said Wednesday that the U.S. must deal with China on climate change as a "critical standalone issue," but stressed that confronting Beijing's human rights and trade abuses "will never be traded" for climate cooperation.

Why it matters: The last few years have brought about a bipartisan consensus on the threat posed by China. But as the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China will be a vital player if the world is going to come close to reining in emissions on the scale needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals of limiting warming to 2°C above pre-industrial levels.

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.

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