Kushner: Palestinians Must Meet Mideast Plan's Conditions to Be Granted Statehood

Chief Palestinian negotiator slams comments made by senior Trump adviser in CNN interview: 'This is the art of dictation, arrogance, and blackmail'

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walks through the crowd as he arrives for the unveiling of the Mideast peace plan at the white House in Washington, January 28, 2020.
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner walks through the crowd as he arrives for the unveiling of the Mideast peace plan at the white House in Washington, January 28, 2020. Credit: Brendan McDermid/REUTERS

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, said that Israel shouldn't recognize a Palestinian state if the Palestinians fail to meet some conditions of the U.S. administration's Mideast peace plan, CNN reported on Monday.

Kushner was asked by CNN's Fareed Zakaria to clarify the conditions that the plan sets for Palestinians before the Trump administration will enable them to establish a state.

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In addition, Zakaria stressed that "no Arab country" currently satisfies the requirements Palestinians are being expected to meet in the next four years – including ensuring freedom of press, free and fair elections, respect for human rights for its citizens, and an independent judiciary," in addition to “established transparent, independent, and credit-worthy financial institutions capable of engaging in international market transactions."

"Isn't this just a way of telling the Palestinians you're never actually going to get a state," Zakaria inquired, "because ... if no Arab countries today in a position that you are demanding of the Palestinians before they can be made a state, effectively, it's a killer amendment."

Struggling to respond, Trump's senior adviser called the conditions presented to the Palestinians "basic."

"Are you saying that we shouldn't have these criteria, saying, you know, 'It's OK if you don't want to respect human rights, if you want to not allow people to speak freely, if you don't want to have an interest in it,'" Kushner said. "The question is how do we get Israel to make compromises to a territorial dispute?"

Kushner then added that Israel has become a "powerhouse" despite being "attacked many times over history," while saying Palestinians "are trapped under the rule that you have now," calling the Palestinian Authority a "police state" and "not exactly a thriving democracy."

"For the Palestinians, if they want their people to live better lives, we now have a framework to do it," Kushner said. "If they don't think that they can uphold these standards, then I don't think we can get Israel to take the risk to recognize them as a state, to allow them to take control of themselves, because the only thing more dangerous than what we have now is a failed state."

Following Kushner's remarks, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat slammed Trump's son-in-law, saying he has unilaterally decided on how a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians would look like.

"What is left to negotiate? When I said these issues must be negotiated between us and Israel directly, Kushner responded by calling me a failed negotiator, unable to negotiate. He negotiated on my behalf because he knows better than I do what is best for me. This is the art of dictation, arrogance, and blackmail," Erakat said in a statement to CNN.

On Saturday Kushner bashed Erekat, saying the chief negotiator was personally responsible for failing to reach an agreement with Israel over the last 25 years.

Also on Saturday, an Arab diplomat told Haaretz that The United States did not disclose the full details of its Mideast peace plan to Arab states before its release, which according to the diplomat is why representatives of three Arab countries attended the event unveiling it last week, a move that was sharply criticized by the Palestinians.

U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled the long-awaited proposal in Washington last Tuesday. It would allow Israel to annex all its West Bank settlements — which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as illegal — as well as the Jordan Valley, which accounts for roughly a quarter of the West Bank.

In return, the Palestinians would be granted statehood in Gaza, scattered chunks of the West Bank and some neighborhoods on the outskirts of Jerusalem, all linked together by a new network of roads, bridges and tunnels. Israel would control the state’s borders and airspace and maintain overall security authority. Critics of the plan say this would rob Palestinian statehood of any meaning.

The plan would abolish the right of return for Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war and their descendants, a key Palestinian demand. The entire agreement would be contingent on Gaza’s Hamas rulers and other armed groups disarming, something they have always adamantly rejected.

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