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Kushner says Abbas has devoted his life to trying to make peace

Jared Kushner said yesterday that he respects Palestinian Authority President (PA) Mahmoud Abbas but criticised people around him who say “crazy things”.

Speaking on a conference call with journalists about the next steps after the Bahrain conference, Kushner said: “Our door is always open to the Palestinian people, to the Palestinian leadership. President Trump is very fond of President Abbas, he likes him very much personally. And at the right time, if they’re willing to engage, I believe that they’ll find that they’ll have an opportunity. Whether they’ll be willing to take that opportunity will be up to them.”

Kushner said he personally has “a lot of respect for President Abbas,” who has “devoted his life to trying to make peace”. But he added that: “President Abbas has certain people around him who are very uncomfortable with the way that we’ve approached this, and their natural instinct is to act and to say crazy things.”

Asked by a Lebanese reporter whether the US hoped Arab countries would agree to permanently host Palestinian refugees in exchange for funding, Kushner declined to answer. But he pointed to the fact that although the “800,000 Jewish refugees” that left Arab countries after the creation of the state of Israel had been resettled, the Arab world has not absorbed a lot of the “800,000 Palestinian refugees”.

Kushner went on to say: “I also think that the refugees, the Palestinian refugees who are in Lebanon, who are denied a lot of rights and who, you know, don’t have the best conditions right now would also like to see a situation where there is a pathway for them to have more rights and to live a better life.”

Speaking about the PA’s rejection of the $50bn development plan proposed in Bahrain, Kushner said: “The argument against it has not been one we found to be substantive or even comprehensible. So it’s been more hysterical and erratic and not terribly constructive. When we put out a political solution, we’re going to try to put forward the best proposed solutions that we think are pragmatic, achievable and viable in this day and age.”