Kushner Hopes Israel Won't Take Unilateral Steps Before Trump's Peace Plan Is Released

In a rare 45 minute interview Thursday, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser said the administration won't ask Israel 'to do things that would put them at risk'

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
Jared Kushner speaks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington D.C., May 2, 2019.
Jared Kushner speaks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Washington D.C., May 2, 2019. Credit: YURI GRIPAS/ REUTERS
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser who is overseeing the Trump administration’s plan for Middle East peace, said Thursday that he hopes Israel and the Palestinians will examine the American peace plan before taking any unilateral steps on the ground.

Kushner made the remark in reply to a question on whether he had discussed the possibility of unilateral Israeli annexation of areas in the West Bank with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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Kushner gave a rare 45 minute interview about the plan at a dinner event hosted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He provided almost no new information on the content of the plan or on when it will be released.

"I hope both sides will take a look at it, the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps,” Kushner stated. He also said that the Trump administration is “giving space” to Netanyahu to form a new coalition government in Israel.

In response to a question from the Washington Institute’s executive director Rob Satloff on why the administration has not taken a position for or against a two-state solution, Kushner replied that the two-state solution “means one thing to Israelis and another to Palestinians, so we told ourselves – let’s try not to say it.” He added that the American document “addresses a lot of these issues in a very detailed way.”

Kushner said that both sides “have to make compromises” in order to resolve the conflict, but emphasized that Trump is “not going to ask [Israel] to do things that would put them at risk.” At the same time, Kushner added, Trump believes that “if you’re able to help the Palestinian people have dignity and opportunity, that’s within the whole region’s interest and in America’s interest. Stabilization is a very important thing.”

Kushner said that the plan will address “political aspirations” as well as economic issues, and that he hopes “people will be surprised when they see it,” but did not elaborate on the actual solutions included in it.

"What we will be able to put together is a solution that we believe is a good starting point for the political issues and then an outline for what can be done to help these people start living a better life,” Kushner said. “The people fundamentally want to live together, to have better lives, to pay their mortgages,” he added.

Earlier this week, Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, who recently returned from a visit to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, said that the peace plan could potentially “destabilize” Jordan, a key U.S. ally and one of only two Arab countries that have a peace treaty with Israel. Murphy and Republican Senator Mitt Romney, who was with him on the trip, both said they encountered pessimism and concern across the region with regards to the peace plan.

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