Senior advisor and son-in-law to US President Donald Trump is making headlines again for comments he made in a television interview on Sunday, insinuating that he didn’t believe Palestinians were capable of governing themselves.
Kushner’s controversial statements were made during a sit-down interview with Axios reporter Jonathan Swan who covered a range of topics, including Kushner’s views on Middle East peace — something he has been tasked with achieving by the US administration.
Swan posed the question of whether Kushner believed that Palestinians were “capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference,” to which Kushner responded with, essentially, ‘not yet.’
Here is the full exchange as reported by Slate:
Swan: Do you believe that the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference?
Kushner: I think that’s a very good question. I think that that’s one that we’ll have to see. The hope is is that they, over time, can become capable of governing …
Swan: They being the Palestinians.
Kushner: The Palestinians. I think there are some things that the current Palestinian government has done well, and there are some things that are lacking. And I do think that in order for the area to be investable, for investors to come in and want to invest in different industries and infrastructure and create jobs, you do need to have a fair judicial system, freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions, and so …
Swan: Can they have freedom from any Israeli government or military interference?
Kushner: I think that it’s a high bar.
According to Al Jazeera, Kushner avoided explicitly saying whether his peace plan would include a two-state solution — something he has avoided ever since he began promoting his plan, leading many to believe the so-called “deal of the century” will feature no such thing as an independent Palestinian state.
When asked if he believed the Palestinian people deserve their own independent sovereign state with a capital in East Jerusalem, one of the core demands of the Palestinians, Kushner skirted around the question, saying he believe Palestinians were more concerned with “the opportunity to pay their mortgage.”
Here is the full exchange:
Swan: Do you believe the Palestinian people deserve their own independent sovereign state with a capital in East Jerusalem?
Kushner: There’s a difference between the technocrats, and there’s a difference between the people. The technocrats are focused on very technocratic things, and when I speak to Palestinian people, what they want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage, to have …
Swan: You don’t think they want their own state, free from Israeli government and military?
Kushner: I think that they want an opportunity.
For many watching the interview, the entire portion on Palestine and the peace process featured what seemed like one insult after the other, coming from an already despised person among Palestinians.
During the interview, Swan asked Kushner if he understood why he was not trusted among the Palestinians, who have boycotted the US government and its peace process since December 2017, when Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“I’m not here to be trusted,” Kushner said, adding that he believed Palestinians would judge the plan based on whether they think it “will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not.”