In a rare televised interview senior White House advisor and the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner explained yesterday how he plans to move forward with his Middle East peace plan, despite collapsed relations with the Palestinian negotiations team. Speaking to Van Jones at CNN’s CITIZEN forum in New York City, Kushner spent most of the nearly one-hour conversation on the criminal justice system, including his father’s incarceration, and Saudi Arabia. But when Jones asked how it would be possible to achieve a major peace accord when the White House is no longer in contact with Palestinian negotiators, Kushner’s comments suggested getting the current leadership on board may not be key at this point.
Kushner said, “Look, I’ve gotten to know the Palestinians leadership, I’ve gotten to know a lot of Palestinians leaders who are not necessarily in the existing leadership, but our sense is that when we put our plan out if there is reasonable leadership and if it is a reasonable plan, then they will come to the table and try to fight for how to create the best opportunity and the best outcome for their people.”
“We’re hopeful that we will find leadership that will be willing to do that,” Kushner added, “Bold leadership.”
Speaking of his peace plan that is yet to be released, he said, “I think that people will realize that there are a lot more reasons to be for it than to be against it,” noting, “I think that there is a bigger gap between the negotiators than between the people.”
At one point Kushner also compared the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to business conflicts he has encountered, and he later called it a “file.”
“What I realized very quickly is that we’ve been fighting about the same thing for the past 25 years in the conflict, but not a lot has changed. So what we did is, we took an approach where we thought we would create a very in-depth document that goes through the issues and we thought that something much more prescriptive,” Kushner said, “I’ve always found that with conflicts when I was in business, when you’re fighting over a concept, it’s much easier to disagree than when you’re fighting about specifics and that’s actually a big part of how we got people to the finish line on the U.S. embassy.”
“One thing about this file is that there is about a thousand ways to fail,” he said.
In recent weeks the U.S. both shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization, or PLO’s, Mission in Washington DC, and dissolved the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem tasked with services to Palestinians. Palestinians will now have to use the U.S. embassy to Israel, a reorganization that was viewed by the Palestinians as confirmation that the White House has no intention of establishing a future for them. The major impetus for the breakdown, moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem last May, is currently being challenged by the Palestinians who have asked the United Nation’s top court to get involved. This also follows yet another major cut of $165 million to the Palestinian government, this time by Congressional legislation.
Earlier in the interview when Jones asked about the alleged killing of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Kushner said he advised Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, “just to be transparent.”
He reiterated what most other White House officials are saying about the matter, that he is waiting for Saudi Arabia’s internal investigation to conclude before making any decision on a U.S. response.
“We’re more in the fact finding phase. and obviously getting as many facts from the different places and then we will determine what facts are credible and then after that the president and the sec of state will make a determination as to what we deem to be credible and what actions we should take,” he said.
Kushner added, “we have to be able to work with our allies, and Saudi Arabia has been, i think a very strong alley in terms of pushing back against Iran’s aggression which is funding a lot of terrorism in the region, weather it’s the Houthis in Yemen, or it’s Hezbollah or Hamas, we have a lot of terrorism in the region.”
Updated October 24, 2018 at 12:30p.m.