Photo Credit: Screenshot from CBS This Morning
Jared Kushner in front of the White House, Aug. 14, 2020.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner is not giving up on his efforts to sell the F-35 stealth warplanes to the United Arab Emirates as part of its peace agreement with Israel. He also insisted that Israel has agreed to a Palestinian state in return for the same agreement.

On Wednesday, Kushner went on the record regarding the administration’s Middle East peace efforts, including next week’s historic signing of the Abraham Accords on the White House lawn between the United Arab Emirates and Israel, and the President’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Ambassador David Friedman and envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, June 22, 2018. / Matty Stern/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem
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Kushner was asked by a reporter: “With regard to talks with the Emirates on the F-35, can you tell us a little bit about where those discussions stand, and particularly shed some light on some of the pushback that’s come from Congress – bipartisan pushback that’s come back on some of the concerns of selling the F-35 to the Emirates.”

Kushner answered: “Right now, again, it’s just something that’s being discussed; we’re going through consultations. President Trump has shown that he’s – that he understands Israel’s security probably more than any American president in decades. He’s been a great friend of Israel. He’s made the region safer. He’s brought America and Israel closer than they’ve ever been before. And we’re going to, obviously, work with the QME (Israel’s doctrine of maintaining its Qualitative Military Edge – DI). And we’ll do what we can do to make sure that we accommodate that circumstance.”

That was concession talk, then came the sale: “But the United Arab Emirates is a great military, you know, partner of America. We work together on a lot of things. They’re right on the border with Iran and have real threats. And I think that there’s a lot of opportunity to be gained by working on this. So this is something that we’re discussing very seriously. And we’ll see what happens as we go through consultations with the Israelis and with Congress and with other partners.”

F-35I ‘Adir’ fighter jets in formation / Lt. Col. E. / IDF

So far, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been stubbornly on the record as opposing the sale of the world’s most advanced warplanes to an Arab nation, never mind how good its relationship with the US has been. If Netanyahu is telling Israelis the truth, he would do whatever he can to push Congress against the deal – which shouldn’t be hard to do in the Democratic-controlled House.

Kushner shared with the reporters: “You’re seeing every day new announcements of, you know, airlines that are looking to fly from Israel to different Arab cities that traditionally they weren’t allowed to go to. And backwards, you have a lot of excitement building in the Arab world and Muslim world with people wanting to go to Israel to visit the tourist sites and to pray at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. You’re seeing Kosher restaurants opening up now in Dubai.”

It should be noted that all Muslims who don’t carry explosive charges are welcome to visit the Temple Mount and even pray there (unlike Jewish tourists) – since 1967, really. But the kosher restaurants thing in Abu Dhabi is great news, especially since last time an Israeli mission arrived there they served them camel.

Kushner was asked to “shed some light on the status of efforts to get the Palestinians and Israelis to find some sort of a peace deal and move forward with the effort that you had put forward several months ago. Where does that stand?”

And right off the bat, the presidential son-in-law stated for the record: “You know, Israel agreed to a state for the Palestinians, and they agreed to a map, which is something that had never been done before.”

Those two things – arming an Arab country with weapons that are equal to the IDF’s and claiming Israel has embraced the idea of a Palestinian state, might constitute the greatest threat to Israel’s security since Jimmy Carter.

 

Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas meets with Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah, March 14, 2017. / Flash 90

Kushner waxed nostalgic: “In the first meetings with President Abbas, he said, ‘If you could get Israel to agree to a map, then the rest will be easy to figure out.’ We did better than that: We got them to agree to a state with a map and then real granular conditions as to, you know, how operationally the two people can live together. And so we worked very carefully on that proposal, which is what we thought would be a fair place to start from America.”

So, Netanyahu can protest until he’s blue in the face – Jared Kushner says he agreed to a Palestinian State, come and get it.

“Israel agreed to negotiate on that basis,” Kushner told Wednesday’s teleconference. “And then the Palestinians rejected it before it even came out, so before they even knew what was in it. So – and, again, their strategy has been just to avoid getting into the details on this. But I think that there’s a real desire in the region to try to see it resolved and move on.

“And so, you know, the offer still remains out there for their leadership. The proposal is on the table. We’ve chosen not to chase them. But the moment that they’re ready to engage, we believe that we have the ability to make a peace deal between them and Israel. But we can’t want them to make peace. We can’t want them to have peace more than they want to have peace.

“So when they’re really ready for peace, they’ll call us. They know the terms that we were able to get Israel to agree to negotiate on the basis on. Again, if they think that the lines are drawn in the wrong place, we should come and try to come with a counter proposal, and then we’ll see if we can, you know, bring the two parties together.”

OK, now please try to use your imagination (and we live in an era that anything you imagine happens half an hour later): let’s suppose President Trump does not win the November 3 elections. There are actually reliable indications that this outlandish prediction could become a reality, seeing as he trails his Democratic opponent in the national polls as well as in the must-win states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Arizona, all of them beyond the margin of error. So let’s strain our imagination and ask ourselves what would happen should, God forbid, President Joe Biden will be sworn in on January 20 – what do we imagine the new Secretary of State, Susan Rice, will do with Jared Kushner’s peace efforts? Yes, she will turn them into demands and bring on the entire weight of the White House and Congress.

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Joe Biden receives the Nobel Peace Prize for creating a Palestinian State? We here in Israel won’t be able to follow the ceremony so closely, what with the Palestinian State Qassam rockets falling on Tel Aviv, but still, wouldn’t be the greatest irony since Jimmy Carter kicked the Shah out of Iran to make way for an Islamic Republic, or when GW Bush invested a trillion dollars in enhancing Iranian hegemony over Iraq?

Finally, just so we all realize the full extent of the damage to Israel from the son-in-law, a reporter asked him on Wednesday: “Can the diplomatic relations between Israeli and – Israel and Arab countries put an end to the Israeli annexation of the Palestinian West Bank territory?”

To which Kushner responded: And then with regards to annexation … I look at this much more simplistically, which is: Look, you have a territorial dispute that basically exists because of – you had, you know, one – Israel had independence in 1948. You had a war, then you had another war in ‘67. You had another war in ’73. All were defensive wars. And obviously, Israel conquered territory. Over years, you’ve had a lot of – you know, Arab leaders use hatred of Israel as a way to deflect from a lot of their shortcomings at home. It’s become, you know, a politicized issue. The Palestinian people were used as pawns. And you have a lot of claims.

“Now, the reality is, is I – and I showed a graph when I spoke at the UN, that – you know, that over the course of the negotiations for the last 25 years, the reason why they never accomplished anything was because both parties were getting what they wanted. Every time a negotiation failed, Israel took more land and the Palestinians got more money from the international community. And the conflict became a cash cow for the leadership. And, unfortunately, some of it trickled down to the people, but not enough.

“So the reality is, today, that a lot of this land is inhabited with Israelis. What we did with our plan was we were trying to save the two-state solution because if you – if we kept going with the status quo of what was happening, ultimately, Israel would have eaten up all the land in the West Bank.

“And so, right now, you have a situation where there is land that could become a Palestinian state. It is possible to connect it, but the land that Israeli settlers are in right now is land that Israel controls, and the odds of them ever giving it up is unlikely. That’s why the map that we drew was what we thought was a realistic map based on the – we played the ball as it lies, right? We took the realities in the world today and we drew a map based on that, knowing what was achievable and what was not achievable.

“So, again, you know, people used the Arab Peace Initiative, and that was a great effort, but it was in 2002. If that would have worked, then we would have made peace a long time ago.

“So, you know, we need new points of reference, and that’s what we have right now. And so, you know, again, my fear for the Palestinians is that if they do what they’re very good at doing, which is figure out how to not make a deal and play the victim card, then what’s going to happen is, you know, more time is going to go by and the situation is just going to get worse and worse for them.

“They have an amazing opportunity now, and I really hope they have the courage and the wisdom to come to the negotiating table, try to make the best deal for their people, and move forward with (inaudible). You know, people want to focus on positivity and opportunity, not on old conflicts.”

OK. Now, did you get from this lengthy spiel even one word about Israel’s right to some of the Judea and Samaria territories? I didn’t either. Did you get the feeling Kushner was using the terminology of the militant left about Israel’s pattern of behavior in the same territories? I did, too.

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