Erekat Fires Back at Kushner: Peace Plan Tightens Israeli Colonial Control Over Palestine

Top Palestinian negotiator accuses U.S. of dictating rather than negotiating, says money can't compensate for Palestinian rights

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat holds a map as he speaks to media about an Israeli plan to appropriate land, Jericho, West Bank, January 20, 2016.
Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat holds a map as he speaks to media about an Israeli plan to appropriate land, Jericho, West Bank, January 20, 2016.Credit: REUTERS
Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

Top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat strongly criticized Jared Kushner and the upcoming U.S. peace plan Sunday after Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, discussed the deal in an interview to Palestinian newspaper Al-Quds.

According to Erekat, Kushner's interview highlights America's "refusal to talk substance, to mention Palestinian rights or a Palestinian state."

In the rare interview, Kushner attacked Abbas, criticizing his blanket rejection of the plan before it has even been presented. "President Abbas says that he is committed to peace and I have no reason not to believe him," said Kushner. "However, I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal."

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Erekat called the interview "an attempt to push forward a plan that consolidates Israel’s colonial control over Palestinian land and lives while telling the Palestinian people that money will compensate for our inalienable rights. Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale."

Trump's envoy "represents a policy of dictation rather than negotiations," Erekat continued. "It is the Trump Administration that has walked away from the negotiations, from international law and UN resolutions."

Erekat noted that Kushner as well as Jason Greenblatt, Trump's special envoy to the peace process, "have heard it clear from our fellow Arab leaders that the core of the solution should be grounded on ending Israel’s occupation of Palestine and the establishment of a sovereign and the independent State of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital."

Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, President Trump's special envoy to the peace process, held meetings last week with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Qatar and Saudi Arabia to finalize the Trump administration's peace plan and promote economic projects in Gaza.

According to Kushner, the Arab leaders he met "want to see a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem. They want a deal where the Palestinian people can live in peace and be afforded the same economic opportunities as the citizens of their own countries. They want to see a deal that respects the dignity of the Palestinians and brings about a realistic solution to the issues that have been debated for decades. They all insist that Al Aqsa Mosque remain open to all Muslims who wish to worship."

Abbas and other Palestinian officials have accused Kushner and the administration in the past of completely accepting Israel's positions, and pushing for a plan that won't include an independent and viable Palestinian state.

In the interview, Kushner expressed respect for Abbas' efforts to establish a foundation for peace over the years, but added that he does not think the Palestinian people feel like their lives are getting better.

"There is only so long you can blame that on everyone other than the Palestinian leadership," he said. "The global community is getting frustrated with Palestinian leadership and not seeing many constructive actions towards achieving peace."

When asked about the timing of the plan's publication, Kushner said "Soon. We are almost done."

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