May 28, 2019

Kushner on Middle East tour ahead of peace rollout

Jared Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem in 2017. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

President Trump's senior adviser Jared Kushner, the head of the White House's Israeli-Palestinian peace team, traveled to the Middle East on Monday night on a visit to Morocco, Jordan and Israel, a senior White House official told me.

Why it matters: Kushner will arrive in Israel on Thursday, meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the tail end of a coalition crisis that could lead to new elections. Netanyahu's deadline for forming a new government is set to expire on Wednesday night, and new elections in Israel could be yet another hurdle for the Trump administration's peace plan.

  • Trump jumped into the coalition crisis over the weekend when he tweeted in support of Netanyahu's efforts to form a new coalition. An hour later Netanyahu used Trump's tweet to publicly slam his political opponent former Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman, putting public pressure on him to join the coalition.

Details: Kushner arrived in Rabat Tuesday morning and will meet with senior Moroccan officials. On Wednesday, Kushner will arrive in Amman and meet Jordan's King Abdullah to discuss Jordanian participation in the U.S.-led Bahrain conference next month, which will launch the economic part of the White House peace plan. The Palestinians are pushing the Jordanians to boycott the conference.

  • Jason Greenblatt, the White House's special envoy for Middle East peace, and Brian Hook, the State Department's Iran envoy, are also joining Kushner on the trip.

Go deeper: The only Palestinian RSVP to the White House's Bahrain conference so far

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In photos: India welcomes president with massive "Namaste Trump" rally

First Lady Melania Trump, President Trump and India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi attend the "Namaste Trump" rally at Sardar Patel Stadium in Motera, on the outskirts of Ahmedabad, on Monday. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump told a massive crowd at a rally in Ahmedabad, northwest India, Monday he hopes to reach a trade deal with his ""true friend" Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his two-day visit to the country "except he's a very tough negotiator."

Why it matters: The countries are forging deeper ties, particularly in the military dimension, as India’s location, size and economic growth making it the "obvious counterweight to China" for American policymakers, per Axios' Dave Lawler and Zachary Basu. Prime Minister Narendra Modi demonstrated the importance of the visit with a "Namaste Trump Rally" at a packed 110,000-capacity Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad — the world's largest cricket venue.

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Coronavirus spreads to more countries as cases in South Korea surge

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

Afghanistan, Kuwait and Bahrain each reported their first cases of the novel coronavirus, Al Jazeera first reported, as infections in South Korea, Italy and mainland China continued to increase on Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,619 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

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Sanders reveals free childcare plan for preschoolers

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks during a campaign rally on Saturday in El Paso, Texas. Photo: Cengiz Yar/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders announced on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday a new plan to guarantee free child care and pre-kindergarten to all American children from infancy to age four.

Details: In the wide-ranging interview, Sanders told Anderson Cooper he planned to pay for universal childcare with a wealth tax. "It's taxes on billionaires," he said.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy