Kushner’s Delusional – And Dangerous – Comments
On Sunday, Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, made a rare public appearance to discuss his efforts to secure an Israeli-Palestinian deal and forge a wider Middle East peace.
While Kushner’s remarks were short on specifics, his 30-minute Q&A at the Saban Forum in Washington revealed dangerously delusional thinking when it comes to issues of U.S. national security, the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Iran, and the largest Middle East.
Here, in no particular order, are six highly problematic points from Kushner’s remarks:
1) Kushner and the Trump administration are apparently plowing forward with a plan to create a Palestinian state despite the current Palestinian “unity government” with Hamas, which is committed to Israel’s destruction. This means that any Palestinian state will ostensibly be governed on some level by the new Palestinian National Consensus Government, which includes Hamas as a main power.
Hamas has made clear it will not disarm under the unity deal, and has claimed it will bring its “weapons of the resistance” to the West Bank, where PA President Mahmoud Abbas already has a tenuous and flailing grip on power. In forming a unity government with Hamas, Abbas and the PA made clear where they stand when it comes to moderation and peace with Israel.
2) Kushner is dangerously conditioning a larger Arab-Israel peace on the creation of a Palestinian state. President Obama’s disastrous nuclear agreement with Iran created unique and immediate opportunities to forge economic, military, and diplomatic relations between Israel and the larger Sunni Arab world, led by Saudi Arabia. The Saudis and other Sunni Arab nations are pushing for a larger alliance, understanding that the regional tectonic plates have dramatically shifted and that their best hopes for confronting the Iranian threat lie in a new axis that includes Israel.
Kushner is setting up a larger regional deal for failure by pressing first for a solution to the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “I think that if we’re going to try and create more stability in the region as a whole, this issue has to be solved,” Kushner stated about the momentum for relations with between Israel and the larger Sunni Arab world. By “this issue,” Kushner was referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
He more clearly stated that for a larger regional peace between Israel and the Arab world to be forged, “we have to overcome this issue of the Israeli-Palestinian issue in order for this to happen.”
Kushner is betting on a losing horse and is needlessly placing a timed mega bomb inside an unprecedented opportunity for a larger and potentially stabilizing regional alliance between Israel and the Sunni Arab world.
The Palestinians have a 100 percent track record of bolting negotiations and refusing to sign any so-called peace agreement. Indeed, the Palestinian Authority has rejected every single Israeli offer of a state. Such state offers were made at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, and the Annapolis Conference in 2007 and more offers were made in 2008. It was recently reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quietly made another such offer in 2014. In each of these cases, the PA bolted negotiations without making a counteroffer. In some cases, it countered statehood offers with a major escalation of violence. There is no evidence to suggest that the Palestinians would accept any future Israeli offer.
3) By painting the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as critical to bringing “more stability in the region as a whole” and focusing on the creation of a Palestinian state as a precondition for regional peace, Kushner is feeding into the Palestinian propaganda claim that the so-called Israeli-Palestinian conflict is driving regional turmoil.
This singular focus dangerously lets Iran off the hook for being arguably the greatest threat to regional stability. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has nothing to do with the Iran-backed Houthi rebels destabilizing Yemen or targeting Saudi Arabia. It is not a significant factor in the Shiite-Sunni divide that has been at the heart of Mideast violence. It is a footnote to the larger ISIS designs to create a Caliphate and subjugate non-Muslims in the Middle East and worldwide. The lack of a Palestinian state (the fault of the Palestinians alone for repeatedly rejecting statehood offers) is not driving the Syria civil war, nor is it behind Iran’s attempt to takeover Iraq, Lebanon and Syria.
Reacting to Kushner’s speech, one former Trump administration speaking to this reporter put it this way: “Jared has in essence reverted to the Susan Rice, Obama administration playbook for blaming Israel for the problems in the Middle East. These are talking points directly from J Street.”
The former official, familiar with the White House foreign policy process, charged that “Jared was clearly following instructions from Dina Powell and H.R. McMaster, who have been pushing viewpoints that Israel is a destabilizing force in the region.”
4) Kushner’s “peace” drive promotes the fiction that the Palestinian Authority is a partner for peace. Putting aside Hamas, which again is in a unity agreement with Abbas’s Fatah, the PA’s own rejectionist attitudes toward Israel are highlighted by its repeated use of maps that erase Israel and PA propaganda calling for the dismantling of the Jewish state.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a terrorist group responsible for scores of suicide bombings and deadly shooting attacks, is closely aligned with Abbas’s Fatah party and is routinely referred to as Fatah’s so-called military wing.
Abbas recently exclaimed that he would continue official PA payments to Palestinian prisoners, a grouping that includes convicted terrorists, “until my dying day.” It was reported that the PA’s 2017 budget for payments to terrorists and their families amounts to about half of all foreign aid the PA expects to receive during the next year.
Abbas’s official PA organs and media outlets routinely glorify murderous terrorists. In one of countless examples, Breitbart Jerusalem recently reported on a Fatah summer camp named after Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 Coastal Road massacre in which 38 people – including 13 children – were murdered. Breitbart Jerusalem also recently reported on a song featured on a children’s program on official PA television calling the entire State of Israel, including major Israeli cities, “my country Palestine.”
5) Kushner’s plan to create a Palestinian state would harm U.S. national security interests. The very premise of Kushner’s speech – that an Israeli-Palestinian deal is not only “achievable” but is in U.S. regional national security interests – is dangerous and fundamentally flawed.
There is no significant evidence to suggest that a Palestinian state that openly supports terrorism and is in a unity deal with terrorists would be moderate or a force against regional radicalism. There is overwhelming evidence to support the charge that a future Palestinian state would support terrorism, would remain in a permanent state of war with Israel, and would work to destabilize the region.
The ailing 82-year-old Abbas is unpopular and hasn’t held a presidential election since 2005. There is no known moderate Palestinian leader or political party viewed as capable of taking over the PA. Indeed, there is no known moderate leader in any senior position in the Palestinian arena.
6) Kushner scandalously drew moral equivalencies between Israel and the PA. Kushner talked about “the red lines of both sides” and that they “see a lot of things that could go south quickly.” Only one side, however, seeks to destroy the other and educates its children in anti-Semitic propaganda, radicalism, violence, and rejectionist attitudes.
Kushner went on to compare the democratic, pro-Western, anti-extremism government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to that of the terrorist-supporting, anti-Semitic, Hamas-partnership government of the PA.
“We have an open and honest dialogue with both sides, our conversations have opened up a lot. I think there are a lot of instances of great trust between Israelis and Palestinians, but not along the leadership.”