3 Takeaways from Jared Kushner’s Interview with Sean Hannity on
Middle East Peace
Jared Kushner, the presidential son-in-law and adviser,
rarely speaks in public. No surprise, then, that a rare appearance on cable news
TV was with a friendly network, Fox News, with a friendly interviewer, Sean
seemingly said little about the Israeli-Palestinian peace deal he hopes to
strike, but in reading between the lines, some nuggets emerge: The release of
the proposal is not absolutely certain, and statehood for the Palestinians seems
for now to be a nonstarter. But Kushner also recognizes that he can’t get much
else done in the region without an Israeli-Palestinian deal.
Hannity’s show Monday night, the host and Kushner ran through three issues.
The first two were President Donald Trump’s efforts to replace his chief of
staff after nearly two fraught years with John Kelly (Trump is looking for
someone with “great chemistry,” Kushner said) and a rare impending
legislative win for Trump, passing prison reform.
Hannity asked whether tensions over the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal
Khashoggi were overwhelming Kushner’s quest for what his dad-in-law calls the
“deal of the century” between Palestinians and Israelis.
officials murdered Khashoggi in Turkey, and U.S. intelligence agencies believe
the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, ultimately was responsible for the
operation. Kushner reportedly has led the effort within the administration to
let the crown prince off the hook; the two men have struck a close friendship
and political alliance.
quickly got Khashoggi out of the way.
think our intelligence agencies are making their assessments and we’re hoping
to make sure that there’s justice brought where that should be,” he said.
intelligence agencies have already made their assessment, holding the crown
prince, known by his nickname, MbS, responsible.
to Middle East peace, Kushner said, “We’re focused now on the broader
region, which is figuring out how to hopefully bring a deal together between the
Israelis and the Palestinians.”
and his team – top negotiator Jason Greenblatt and U.S. Ambassador to Israel
David Friedman – have been focused for two years on a deal, so this isn’t
exactly new. Trump said in September that he wants to see a deal by January.
are three takeaways:
a not unsubstantial chance we may never see this thing.
“And we’re hopeful in the next couple of months we’ll put out our plan,
which again not every side is going to love, but there’s enough in it, and
enough reasons why people should take it and move forward,” said Kushner,
whose second “hopeful” in 30 seconds sounded to many as less than hopeful.
may want this deal, but insiders say its prospects of success are virtually nil
given the Palestinian Authority’s unwillingness to participate since Trump
recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital a year ago, and the continued
preeminence of the rejectionist Hamas, a terrorist group, in the Gaza Strip.
Trump administration, reportedly at Kushner’s behest, has severed all
assistance to the Palestinians as an incentive to get them back to the table. It
hasn’t worked. Kushner also hoped the Saudi crown prince would get the
Palestinians on board, but even before his Khashoggi troubles, the Palestinian
leadership was disinclined to heed MbS.
a dead-on-arrival peace process may be the last thing Trump needs as he heads
into a Congress in which the Democrats control the U.S. House of Representatives
and are pledging many investigations, including into Trump’s alleged Russian
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been close to Kushner’s family for
years, may also be less than enthused for electoral reasons of his own.
Netanyahu must call a vote by next fall, and is feeling more pressure – at
least for now – from his right flank than his left. Giving in to the slightest
of Trump-demanded concessions could harm his prospects.
mention statehood. “I’ve been saying a lot that you shouldn’t
be hijacking your children’s’ future because of your grandparents’
conflict,” Kushner said. “This is a conflict that has been going on for way
too long, and the way that people are living in Gaza and in the West Bank right
now is not acceptable and there’s a lot that we can be doing to improve their
quality of life, but it comes with resolving some of these core issues.”
for decades have said that statehood was a baseline for any deal. Trump has
retreated from years of U.S. policy that calls Palestinian statehood a necessary
outcome. Under Trump, alleviating Palestinian suffering takes priority over
about linkage. Kushner persists in the interview in his one
substantive difference with Netanyahu, suggesting that solving the
Israeli-Palestinian issue first is the key to regional diplomacy. Netanyahu has
said that resolving the Palestinian issue may not be critical to advancing
Israel’s other interests and rejects linking a peace deal to other regional
issues. Kushner made
clear a year ago that he is hewing to the more conventional
wisdom that the Palestinian issue comes first, and it appears he has not changed
it’s not just the Israelis that want it, it’s not just the Palestinian
people who want it, it’s all the people I speak to throughout the entire
Middle East who would like to see this issue resolved so that they can start
focusing on a brighter future,” he said.