— -- Jared Kushner, President Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, arrived in Israel Wednesday morning to begin a trip aimed at moving toward a peace deal between the Israelis and Palestinians.
The trip, which comes as Kushner faces increased scrutiny over his connections to Russia amid the investigation into that country's interference in the 2016 election, provides an opportunity for the 36-year-old to make a mark in an area of diplomacy in which his father-in-law has high hopes.
In an interview with the New York Times in November, Trump said he “would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians" adding that it "would be such a great achievement.”
Kushner, who is Jewish, “knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,” Trump told the Times in the same interview. The night before his inauguration, Trump reportedly told Kushner, “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”
Kusher met with Prime Minister Netanyahu soon after his arrival Wednesday. Netanyahu's spokesperson, Ofir Gendelman, tweeted a video of the start of their meeting.
“This is an opportunity to pursue our common goals of security, prosperity, and peace,” Netanyahu told Kushner. “I know of your efforts and the President’s efforts, and I look forward to working with you to achieve these common goals.”
In reference to Trump’s earlier trip to the Middle East, Netanyahu said the president “made an indelible impression on the people of Israel.”
“The president sends his best regards and it’s an honor to be here with you,” said Kushner.
Kushner's arrival in Israel comes at a contentious time in Israeli-Palestinian relations. Netanyahu said on Tuesday that Israel had broken ground on its first new settlement in two decades in the West Bank. This comes after an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in February to uproot the Amona settlement.
Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s advisor to Israel who is accompanying Kushner on his trip, said previously in an interview with Israel's Army Radio, “It is certainly not Mr. Trump’s view that settlement activities should be condemned and that it is an obstacle for peace, because it is not an obstacle for peace.”
On Wednesday morning, Kushner also met with the family of Hadas Malka, the 23-year-old border police officer who was stabbed to death by a Palestinian attacker near Damascus Gate on Friday. Kushner said he was personally asked by Trump to express his condolences to her grieving family. He was accompanied by the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.
Kusnher will later travel to Ramallah in the West Bank and speak with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.