Mission impossible? Kushner seeks to revive Mideast talks

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner, is headed to the region with ambitious hopes of laying the groundwork for a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

Trump has a number of advantages that could help him succeed where a string of predecessors have failed. But the deep divisions between the sides remain, clouding the chances of any significant breakthrough.

Here is a look at what lies ahead:

FESTERING CONFLICT

This month marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Mideast war — a seminal event in which Israel captured the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. The Palestinians claim these areas for a future independent state.

After two decades of failed U.S.-led peace efforts, Palestinian statehood seems distant. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposes a return to anything close to Israel's pre-1967 lines, and Israel has settled over 600,000 of its citizens in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to complicate any partition of the land. Netanyahu's government is also dominated by religious and nationalist hardliners who oppose Palestinian statehood and will fight any major concessions.

Few Israelis can contemplate dividing Jerusalem, and almost none would entertain Palestinian demands for allowing refugees and their descendants, who now number in the millions, the right to live in Israel.

The Palestinians, meanwhile, have rejected Netanyahu's demands to recognize Israel's Jewish identity. They will also hear Israeli complaints about alleged anti-Israeli incitement in speeches, textbooks and social media, and demands that they halt welfare payments to the families of Palestinians involved in violence against Israelis.

Lurking in the background is the Islamic militant group Hamas' continued control of the Gaza Strip. Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies, and Abbas' failure to regain control of Gaza, a decade after Hamas overran his forces there, would be another complicating factor in enforcing any deal.



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