The Atlantic posted an interview with Gerard Araud, the outgoing French ambassador to the U.S. He had some biting comments about Jared Kushner and the Trump peace plan.
The plan serves the more powerful party, the Israelis; Jared Kushner has no guts; “he is totally in real-estate mode.” Trump told Macron, “I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something.” And Palestinians may commit suicide before they accept the plan.
Yara Bayoumy: Your career started out in the Middle East. Where do you see the situation there now, especially with the peace process?
Gérard Araud: I’m close to Jared Kushner … Everywhere in the history of mankind, when there is a negotiation between two sides, the more powerful [party] is imposing terms on the weaker party. That’s the basis of Jared Kushner’s [peace plan]—it will be a proposal very close to what the Israelis want. Is it doomed to fail? I should say 99 percent yes, but 1 percent, you never forget the 1 percent. Trump is uniquely able to push the Israelis, because he is so popular in Israel.
Bayoumy: But Trump hasn’t pushed the Israelis so far.
Araud: Exactly, but if need be, he may do it. Once Trump told Macron, “I have given everything to the Israelis; the Israelis will have to give me something.” He is totally transactional. He is more popular than [Benjamin] Netanyahu in Israel, so the Israelis trust him. That’s the first bet, Kushner told me. The second is that the Palestinians may consider, it’s their last chance to get limited sovereignty. And the third element is Kushner is going to pour money on the Palestinians. Don’t forget, the Arabs are behind the Americans. The plan is 50 pages, we were told, very precise; we don’t know what is in the plan. But we’ll see.
The problem is that the disproportion of power is such between the two sides that the strongest may conclude that they have no interest to make concessions. And also the fact that the status quo is extremely comfortable for Israel. Because they [can] have the cake and eat it. They have the West Bank, but at the same time they don’t have to make the painful decision about the Palestinians, really making them really, totally stateless or making them citizens of Israel. They won’t make them citizens of Israel. So they will have to make it official, which is we know the situation, which is an apartheid. There will be officially an apartheid state. They are in fact already.
Bayoumy: How do you feel Kushner approached the peace plan?
Araud: He is totally in real-estate mode. He is totally dry. He’s extremely smart, but he has no guts. He doesn’t know the history. And in a sense, it’s good—we are not here to say who is right, who is wrong; we are trying to find a way. So in a sense, I like it, but at the same time he is so rational, and he is so pro-Israeli also, that he may neglect the point that if you offer the Palestinians the choice between surrendering and committing suicide, they may decide the latter. Somebody like Kushner doesn’t understand that.