In Israel-centric remarks, Kushner faults Palestinian leaders for inciting violence at ‘Temple Mount’

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Wired has published a partial transcript of Middle East envoy Jared Kushner’s meeting with congressional interns yesterday that was secretly taped and leaked to Foreign Policy. Kushner is negative about the prospects for peace and repeatedly echoes the Israeli point of view in the conflict.

Kushner’s negativity:

[N]ot a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this…

[T]here may be no solution…

As for Kushner’s echoing the Israeli side, he refers to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “Bibi” — not surprising given that Kushner has been friendly with the Israeli leader since childhood– in taking Netanyahu’s position visavis the Israeli press over Netanyahu’s removal of the metal detectors Israel had set up at entrances to the Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem:

And so Bibi was getting beaten up by the press in Israel, because that was very politically unpopular for him to do.

More significantly, Kushner repeats several accusations of Palestinian incitement to violence in Jerusalem without mentioning Israeli violence:

So as tensions were really mounting, I don’t know if everyone is familiar, but there were two people—two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount, and that’s the first time in many, many, many years that that happened, so Israelis [unintelligible] putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do. You know when you have—police officers were just killed, and weapons that were used to [unintelligible] the weapons to check them—so then what happens is they start inciting it.

Kushner’s blame game continues in this description of Palestinian incitement of violence against an alleged occupation.

They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo. The Temple Mount is a [unintelligible] occupation of Israel, and Israel was saying we don’t want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe. And that really incited a lot of tension in the streets.

… [T]hen I think one of the Palestinians’ religious leaders was saying, “If you go through the metal detectors, then your prayers don’t count.” And that is not a very helpful thing to have said. And then there was a lot of rage. And there was an Israeli family that three people killed in their home, which was absolutely terrible. You know, so, “I’m going to do this to free the Temple Mount.”

Notice that Kushner refers to the site as the Temple Mount, a Jewish term alluding to the Jewish temples said to have been at the site, even when he puts thoughts in the mind of the Palestinian who killed three members of a settler family over the access issues. When for Palestinians the site is the Haram al-Sharif.

Also note that Israel has killed many Palestinians, including some wielding knives and confronting soldiers. Surely some of those killings were “absolutely terrible,” but they escape the envoy’s attention.

In June Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas was reported to be enraged by Kushner’s Israel-centric view of the conflict.

The full transcript by WIRED of Kushner’s Middle East answer follows:

So first of all, this is one of the ones I was asked to take on, and I did with this something that I do with every problem set you get. Which is you try to study the historical context to understand how something got to where it is, who was successful, and who wasn’t successful. And you try to [unintelligible] is research it and look at the conventional sources but also try to get some unconventional sources as well. And what I’ve determined from looking at it is that not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this.

And the other thing about it I’d say is that the variables haven’t been changed much, so at some point it’s just one of those things where you kind of have to just pick and choose where you draw conclusion. But that was the other observation I had.

The third one is that I have tried to look at why people haven’t been successful in the negotiations, so I looked and studied all the different negotiations. I spoke to a lot of people who have have been part of them, and I think the reason why is that this is a very emotionally charged situation. Look at what happened this past 10 days—a lot of seemingly logical measures taken on the different [unintelligible] part somehow became a little bit incendiary. But we were able to calm it down by having a lot of really great dialogue between Jordan and the Palestinian authority and the Israelis….

I’d say what makes me hopeful about it is the fact that, a) we’ve had two achievements so far that I think are actually quite noteworthy, which I’ll talk about in a second. The reason why we haven’t been able to do that is the trust that we have with all sides. So if you’ve noticed about this conflict, and [unintelligible] nothing’s leaked out. So nothing has leaked out which I think gives the parties more trust, and more ability to really express and share their viewpoints. And ultimately, if you do a deal that when somebody had to compromise somewhere—all right so there’s a stated set of positions on one side. There’s a stated set of positions on the other side. And there’s a lot of viewpoints all around that people have, which may or may not be conducive to a solution. So I think you need to be able to probe people in private for them to have the confidence that it’s not going to be used against them, and that it’s not going to leak out in the press, which would be very, very hurtful. That’s been a big advantage, which has allowed us to really have a lot of very interesting conversations.

So the two successes that we’ve had so far is—I don’t know if you’re familiar with the deal we’ve had on the water with the Jordanians and the Israelis and the Palestinians—so I was saying that they’ve talked about in concept for a lot of years where [unintelligible] and we were able to figure out how we were going to negotiate a solution which simply [unintelligible] talking for a very, very long time. But again, that happened just because we’re talking to all sides. We don’t let them get caught in the past.

 You know everyone finds an issue, that, “You have to understand what they did then,” and “You have to understand that they did this.” But how does that help us get peace? Let’s not focus on that. We don’t want a history lesson. We’ve read enough books. Let’s focus on how do you come up with a conclusion to the situation. That was one thing that we achieved, which we were quite happy about—which is, you know, small thing, but it’s actually a pretty big thing over there. But something that we thought was a pretty big step.

The other thing was working through, in this past week, it really showed us how quickly things can ignite in our history, and you have some people who don’t want to see and achieve an outcome of peace. And other people sometimes thrive in the chaos, and they thrive [unintelligible] and that’s not new to politics and its not new to that conflict. It’s just the way it is, and you always have people on all sides [unintelligible] .

And again, all these people make arguments about why they feel the way they do. So as tensions were really mounting, I don’t know if everyone is familiar, but there were two people—two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount (and that’s the first time in many, many, many years that that happened, so Israelis [unintelligible] putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do. You know when you have—police officers were just killed, and weapons that were used to [unintelligible] the weapons to check them—so then what happens is they start inciting it.

They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo. The Temple Mount is a [unintelligible] occupation of Israel, and Israel was saying we don’t want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe. And that really incited a lot of tension in the streets.

So we’re going to work with them [unintelligible] to take down the metal detectors there, and then I think one of the Palestinians’ religious leaders was saying, “If you go through the metal detectors, then your prayers don’t count.” And that is not a very helpful thing to have said. And then there was a lot of rage. And there was an Israeli family that three people killed in their home, which was absolutely terrible. You know, so, “I’m going to do this to free the Temple Mount.” So ultimately we were able to work with them, and we were able to get the Israelis to take down to the different forms of surveillance that the Jordanians were okay with, and we talked with the Palestinians the whole time to try to get their viewpoint on it.

And then ultimately they said, “Okay, we took down the metal detectors but there’s still a bridge up somewhere.” And they said, “Okay, we’ll take that down, too.” And so Bibi was getting beaten up by the press in Israel, because that was very politically unpopular for him to do. At the same time we got a situation in Jordan where an Israeli security diplomat in Jordan was attacked by two Jordanian men, and in self-defense he killed the attackers. So then it worked out where the Jordanians got the Israelis to accept their people from the embassy back to Israel.

[Unintelligible]

My point is that these things are very, very combustible, and very, very delicate in terms of how you can do, but I think the fact that all these conversations were all done in quiet and nothing leaked out [unintelligible]. But I think we were able to keep things quiet. But I mean, any day something could happen.

So, what do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know… I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically. We’re thinking about what the right end state is. And we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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About Allison Deger

Allison Deger is the Assistant Editor of Mondoweiss.net. Follow her on twitter at @allissoncd.

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4 Responses

  1. eljay
    August 1, 2017, 2:14 pm

    … I don’t know if everyone is familiar, but there were two people—two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount … so Israelis [unintelligible] putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do. …

    Of course. The victim has slashed her rapist captor with a shiv, so it’s not irrational for him to start conducting full body cavity searches on her.

    … They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo. The Temple Mount is a [unintelligible] occupation of Israel, and Israel was saying we don’t want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe. …

    Right, and the woman chained in the basement is a victim of the rapist, but the rapist doesn’t want anything to do with that, he just wants to make sure she’s safe.

    Attaboy, Jared.

  2. JosephA
    August 1, 2017, 11:02 pm

    This is not surprising.

  3. Citizen
    August 2, 2017, 1:14 pm

    This shows Kushner is hopelessly proven to take Israel ‘s stance when the rubber hits the road–gee what a surprise. Wouldn’t you like to see his take on the Nakba, simultaneously broadcast on US main media?

  4. Citizen
    August 2, 2017, 1:17 pm

    So frustrating, so normal re US foreign policy

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