President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor said in an interview published Sunday that the administration will release a Mideast peace plan soon, with or without the blessing of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Jared Kushner accused Abbas of advancing his own political interests at the expense of his constituents and suggested the Palestinian leader was afraid of making peace with Israel.
“Don’t let your leadership reject a plan they haven’t even seen,” Kushner said in a direct appeal to Palestinians. “A lot has happened in the world since this conflict began decades ago. The world has moved forward while you have been left behind.”
Kushner granted his lone interview during a tour of the Middle East to the Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds, and then used the opportunity to bash the Palestinian president, a departure from standard diplomatic norms. The White House released a translation of the interview, which was published in Arabic.
The Palestinian Authority has refused to meet with American representatives since Trump announced that the United States would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move its embassy from Tel Aviv, never addressing the Palestinians’ claim to the eastern part of the holy city as their future capital.
The Palestinian Authority’s chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Kushner’s comments were duplicitous.
“This is an attempt to push forward a plan that consolidates Israel’s colonial control over Palestinian land and lives while telling the Palestinian people that money will compensate for our inalienable rights,” he said. “Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale.”
The reference alluded to Trump’s reported request that Saudi Arabia and the Persian Gulf states provide $1 billion for the reconstruction of Gaza, a tiny strip of land that has been blockaded by Israel and Egypt for over a decade. Abbas has rejected that idea as nothing more than a “plan to divide Palestinians.”
Kushner said if Abbas is willing to negotiate, the U.S. is ready to listen. Yet he warned that “if he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly.”
In the interview, Kushner called Israel “the Silicon Valley of the Middle East,” from which the “industrious, well-educated Palestinian people could benefit.”
“Israel’s prosperity would spill over very quickly to the Palestinians if there is peace,” he said. “Many countries from around the world are ready to invest if there is a peace agreement.”
Kushner also doubted Abbas’ abilities as a statesman.
“I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal,” Kushner said. “He has his talking points which have not changed in the last 25 years. There has been no peace deal achieved in that time. To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”
In a Cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the two meetings he held over the weekend with Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s special representative for international negotiations.
“We discussed the diplomatic process and regional issues,” Netanyahu reported to his ministers, “and there was special focus on the situation in Gaza. I must say that there was absolute support for our positions and our actions to ensure the security of the State of Israel and its citizens in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip, which was expressed publicly by the American administration’s envoys.”
Tarnopolsky is a special correspondent.