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White House briefs students on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Obama administration officials briefed Jewish and Arab-American student leaders on the peace process.

Among the participants in the three-hour White House briefing on Feb. 6 were students affiliated with Hillel, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the American Jewish Committee, J Street and Americans for Peace Now.

“As part of our ongoing efforts of working with key stakeholders throughout the process of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, yesterday a group of U.S. officials met with a diverse group of youth leaders who are involved in various ways with the Israeli-Palestinian issue,” an administration official told JTA the day after the briefing. “This meeting was an opportunity to update the leaders on the status of the negotiations as well as to solicit their views and have them contribute their thoughts to the policy process.”

Shaina Lowe, the U.S. outreach director for OneVoice, a group that promotes grass-roots peace activism among Israelis and Palestinians, attended the briefing.

“It was an opportunity for her to discuss OneVoice’s parallel campaigns underway in Israel and Palestine to mobilize a political center on each side to support the negotiations and the ultimate goal of a two state solution,” said a spokesman for the group.

Additionally, there was a representative of the Peres Center in Israel.

According to officials who attended the off-the-record briefing, government representatives at the meeting included Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, and Ilan Goldenberg and Laura Blumenfeld, advisers to Martin Indyk, the top U.S. Middle East negotiator.

The officials said the meeting appeared to be part of a broader effort by the administration to prepare public opinion for Secretary of State John Kerry’s planned unveiling of a framework peace agreement.

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