The New Arab

US holds talks with Saudi Arabia on 'Palestinian state'

Kushner plays a key role in the White House [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 December, 2017

Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been holding talks with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on establishing a Palestinian state, isolating State Secretary Rex Tillerson.
Donald Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has been holding talks with Saudi Arabia's powerful Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on a US-backed Palestinian state, media reports stated this week.

Trump has promised to make it a foreign policy priority to forge a peace deal between Israel and Palestine, and has tasked his son-in-law with the task.

Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman have been in negotiations on establishing a Saudi-funded Palestinian state, Bloomberg said, although the secret talks have angered State Department head Rex Tillerson.

Trump's son-in-law and the Saudi crown prince have struck a close relationship although Tillerson is said to be furious about being kept "in the dark" on the Palestine issue, the report said.

Tillerson fears the relationship between the two men could push the region into deeper turmoil and is concerned Kushner has not been transparent with the State Department in his dealings with bin Salman.

"The problem is, the senior presidential adviser does not consult with the State Department - and it's unclear the level of consultation that goes on with the [National Security Council]" a source told Bloomberg

"And that's a problem for both the NSC and the State Department and it’s not something we can easily solve."

There have been reports that Trump - egged on by Kushner - might soon try to oust Tillerson from the State Department, the report said.

Tillerson is said to be concerned that the Saudi leadership are using Kushner as a way of influencing the US president.

Saudi Arabia's crown prince is believed to be behind a number of dangerous escalations in the region, including the war in Yemen, blockade on Qatar, and to have summoned Lebanon Prime Minister Saad Hariri to Riyadh and forced him to announce his resignation.

A White House official told Bloomberg that Kushner was unaware of moves by the Saudis to influence the US president, but Trump has made a number of pro-Riyadh tweets over the past year.

He also appears to have taken Riyadh's side in its dispute with Doha, which has added to the dangerous tensions in the region.

Saudi Arabia is rumoured to have considered a military option against Qatar, which could have a disastrous impact on the stationing of a major US airbase in Qatar.

Some officials have denied the reports of a clash between Tillerson and Kushner and assured that there is regular communication between the two men.

But with tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia reaching fever pitch, many fear miscommunications by the Trump administration or rash actions by Mohammed bin Salman could spiral out of control.

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