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Saudis host Kushner, Trump envoy after Israel-Gaza flare-up

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Wednesday hosted US President Donald Trump’s special envoy Jason Greenblatt and adviser Jared Kushner to discuss the Palestinian-Israeli peace process, following a new flare-up of hostilities.

The meeting with Prince Mohammed bin Salman came as Israeli warplanes pounded Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in response to a barrage of rockets and mortar shells fired from the Palestinian enclave.

“Building on previous conversations, they discussed… the need to bring humanitarian relief to Gaza, and the Trump administration’s efforts to bring peace between the Israelis and Palestinians,” the White House said in a brief statement.

The visit came a day after Greenblatt and Kushner met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman to discuss the peace process during a regional tour that will also take them to Israel, Egypt, and Qatar.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been stalled since 2014.

Trump’s controversial December decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has made the resumption of peace efforts unlikely.

The move sparked anger across the Arab world and prompted Palestinians to freeze all contacts with US officials.

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state, but Israel considers the entire city to be its eternal and indivisible capital.

Israel’s latest strikes targeting Hamas’s military wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, were more intense than in previous sorties.

Israeli warplanes initially targeted three Hamas military positions overnight in Gaza in response to kites and balloons carrying incendiary and explosive devices launched into Israel from the Palestinian territory, the Israeli army said.

The latest spike in tensions follows weeks of deadly protests and clashes along the Gaza-Israel border as well as the worst military escalation last month since a 2014 war.

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