JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with US envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt over the weekend. It was the US delegation's last stop on its latest Middle East tour, which included meetings in Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the US Dan Shapiro were also included in the meetings.
"We discussed the diplomatic process and regional issues, and there was special focus on the situation in Gaza," Netanyahu told cabinet ministers at Sunday's meeting.
"I must say that there was absolute support for our positions and our actions to ensure the security of the State of Israel and its citizens in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, which was expressed publicly by the American administration's envoys," he said.
The United Nations and the European Union, among others, have accused the Israeli military of using excessive force against the demonstrators despite repeated attempts to infiltrate Israel at various points along the border. More than 100 demonstrators, the majority of whom were Hamas operatives, have been killed since the "Great March of Return" began more than two-and-a-half months ago.
Along with rocket and mortar shell attacks, demonstrators have destroyed thousands of acres of farmland, nature reserves and forests using incendiary kites and balloons to set southern Israel ablaze.
Burned Wheat Field in Southern Israel, Photo, CBN News, Jonathan Goff
"These matters are clear – first of all how to ensure security and how to prevent a broader flare-up, if it is at all possible," Netanyahu said. They also discussed how to help Gaza residents without strengthening Hamas.
Netanyahu thanked President Trump, Secretary of State Pompeo and Ambassador Haley for the "continual and strong support at the UN," calling it "very impressive."
The Trump administration is planning to present its peace deal this summer, even if Palestinian leaders in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip refuse to acknowledge it.
"If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage," Kushner said. "If he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly."
In a rare interview over the weekend with the Jerusalem-based newspaper Al-Quds, Kushner appealed directly to the people in what's thought to be the most widely read Arabic-language daily.
White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, Photo, AP archive
"You deserve to have a bright future," Kushner told them indirectly," saying there have been "countless mistakes and missed opportunities" for which they themselves have "paid the price."
He continued: "A lot has happened in the world since the conflict began decades ago. The world has moved forward while you have been left behind. Don't allow your grandfather's conflict to determine your children's future."
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to meet with US officials since the Trump administration announced its support of Jerusalem as Israel's capital last December and moved its embassy to Jerusalem this spring.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the PA leader, who sight unseen labeled the US peace plan "a waste of time" doomed to fail.
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Screen Capture
Kushner said the rulers in Ramallah are worried that the people will like the plan. Some say Abbas is more focused on his "political survival and cementing a legacy of not having compromised than on bettering the lives of the Palestinian people," he added.
There are countless other analyses on why the PA leadership refuses to sit down with Israeli leaders face to face to work out an agreement.
Click here to read Bassam Tawil's analysis, entitled "Palestinians: The Only Acceptable Peace Plan" published by Gatestone Institute.