Trump to dispatch team to work on Israel-Palestinian peace

FILE - In this July 24, 2017 file photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks to reporters outside the White House in Washington. The White House says President Donald Trump will be sending three senior officials to the Middle East in coming days to discuss prospects for resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump is sending three senior officials to the Middle East in coming days to discuss prospects for resuming the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the White House said Friday.

In a statement, it said Trump believes the return of calm to Jerusalem after a period of unrest over a contested holy site has created an opportunity to restart discussions. To explore that opportunity, it said departing “soon” for the region will be Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner; his envoy for international negotiations Jason Greenblatt; and deputy national security adviser Dina Powell.

“He believes that the restoration of calm and the stabilized situation in Jerusalem after the recent crisis on the Temple Mount-Haram al Sharif has created an opportunity to continue discussions and the pursuit of peace that began early in his administration,” it said. The three are to meet leaders from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and the Palestinian Authority “about how best to support the peace effort,” it said.

The crisis erupted when Israel installed metal detectors at gates to the compound — known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, or Haram al Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount — after Arab gunmen killed two Israeli policemen there in mid-July. The measures triggered protests by Muslims.

Israel removed the devices after a few days, after intervention from the United States, Jordan and others. The step was seen by many in Israel as a capitulation and by Palestinians and the Arab world as a victory.

Nabil Abu Rdeneh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, welcomed the impending visit.

“We are committed to peace based on the two state solution.” he said. “We informed the American Administration that we are ready for peace on this basis. And we are waiting now for the American delegation to work together toward peace.”

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli government.

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Ian Deitch contributed from Jerusalem.

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