Photo Credit: Matty Stern / US Embassy Jerusalem
Avi Berkowitz in a ceremony at Bahrain International Airport, October 18, 2020.

The senior adviser to the President of the United States and his Special Envoy for Negotiations in the Middle East, Avi Berkowitz, told Army Radio on Thursday morning that the application of Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria had not been dropped.

“The annexation was not taken off the table,” Berkowitz stated. “It’s something that can be done later, it’s not something we disagree on.”

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Berkowitz referred to reports about behind-the-scenes contacts with other Arab countries towards normalization of relations with Israel, saying: “The president was asked about it and replied, ‘We are in talks with five to ten countries.’ I can confirm that this is true.”

He declined to name the countries, but added: “There are very detailed conversations, and they all advance this goal. It’s not a question of whether, only a question of when. The countries are ready, they are excited. The veto that the Palestinians have had for decades no longer exist.”

In the Middle East and North Africa there are 22 Arab countries, of which Israel has diplomatic relations with Egypt, Jordan, the UAE and Bahrain.

We went to Wiki so you won’t have to: Avrahm “Avi” Berkowitz (born November 4, 1988) is an American attorney and political adviser, who currently serves as the Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, in addition to retaining his former role as Advisor to Jared Kushner.

Berkowitz grew up in Lawrence, New York. He attended Yeshiva of Far Rockaway. After graduation, he studied at Kol Torah yeshiva in Jerusalem. In 2009, he returned to the US and enrolled in Yeshiva Ner Yisroel in Baltimore. Eventually, he earned a BA from Queens College, followed by attending the Harvard University law school.

During law school, Berkowitz taught an undergraduate class called “Road to the White House,” years before he would campaign for Donald Trump. After graduation, he went to work for the Trump 2016 presidential campaign.

Back to the Army Radio interview: Berkowitz was asked about the F-35 deal with the Emirates, and said: “Everyone knows the emirates have been asking for this for many years, but the deal was not a component of the agreement. Of course peace changes the picture, making it more possible. It’s something we’re considering doing, but it’s a logical equation – it can only happen if it does not endanger Israel’s security.”

Trump’s special envoy to the region was asked about the issue of applying Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and responded: “The annexation has not come off the table. We had a significant opportunity before us – the opportunity to normalize relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. We had talks with other countries, so we knew it was a significant opportunity even beyond the Emirates. It’s something that can be done later. It’s not something we don’t agree with, it’s part of President Trump’s vision of peace.”

At the end of the interview, Berkowitz, who was named one of the top 50 most influential Jews of 2019, was asked how a relatively young, good Jewish boy manages to reach such a high position in the US administration, mediating negotiations between prime ministers, sheikhs and kings in the Middle East, and answered: “Great luck and help from the Blessed One.”

And don’t forget being very close friends with first son-in-law Jared Kushner. Berkowitz worked for Kushner at his company, Kushner Companies, and wrote for Kushner’s New York Observer the latter had purchased in 2006. Make it, then, great luck, help from above, and the inside track to the White House.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.