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Kushner says “false realities” are preventing peace

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Jared Kushner has told the New York Times that previous Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were based on “false realities” which scared diplomats from making the right decisions.

Kushner said the US has improved the chances for a negotiated deal between the two sides by stripping away “many false realities that were created — that people worship — that I think needed to be changed”.

The New York Times interview comes three days after the Trump administration told the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to close its office in Washington and a week after the US decision to withdraw all bilateral aid to the Palestinians, as well as all funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. Jared Kushner said that “nobody is entitled to American foreign aid,” arguing that aid to the Palestinians had made them dependent on the generosity of foreign actors with no plan to make them self-reliant. He also insisted that none of the US actions had diminished the chances of an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kushner said the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem had burnished US President Trump’s credibility by delivering on a campaign promise. Since that decision Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept the US as a mediator in Israeli-Palestinian talks. “If Abbas is a serious leader, he will study the administration’s peace plan carefully after it is released,” Kushner said.

According to the report, the US plan for Israel-Palestinian talks is all but finished, with only some tinkering of the language. The plan is expected to focus on improving economic conditions for the Palestinians. The US team had hoped for Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince, Mohammed bin Salman, to advocate for the plan among  Middle East states, but the US is now more sceptical of him playing that role as he struggles to implement his domestic reform agenda.

The Israeli newspaper Globes reported yesterday that President Trump offered $5bn to the PA to return to the negotiating table but Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt denied the report, saying it is “absurd” to offer money for a party to return to talks.