Promoting his long-awaited peace plan on CNN on Tuesday, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner did not bring his diplomatic A-game, if his goal was to convince both Israel and Palestine to come together to consider the Trump administration’s deeply flawed vision of a new Middle East. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, the president’s son-in-law did not share much empathy for the Palestinian people, a signal he might need to boost for his “conceptual map” to become a reality. Encouraging critics to “divorce yourself from all of the history” and focus on the deal on the table, Kushner lamented the current state of the Palestinian National Authority:
You have 5 million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership. So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity — which again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities — if they screw this up, I think they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them if they come to the table and negotiate I think they can get something excellent …
The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question: Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.
In addition to his apparent claim ignoring Palestinian rights under international law, the president’s son-in-law is overlooking the Trump administration’s decision to block Palestinian input at every step of the process. “They want to be able to say that they have our input,” Mahmoud al-Aloul, the vice-chairman of Palestine’s ruling Fatah Party, told the Washington Post last week. “But [Trump] is not doing this to help us, but to help his friend Netanyahu.” As New York contributor Heather Hurlbert notes, Palestine doesn’t really have an incentive to consider Kushner’s deal:
Trump’s plan breaks with those decades-long expectations — no evacuations of settlements, Palestinian presence in Jerusalem limited to the eastern outskirts, Palestinian diaspora not just barred from returning to Israel but limited in its ability to immigrate to Palestine. The territory proposed for Palestine is considerably less than what has been offered in the past. The deal doesn’t include a path to statehood but rather talks of a “future State of Palestine” after, among other things, the Palestinian armed group Hamas (which currently controls the Gaza Strip, along with a significant portion of Palestinian territory and population) disbands. Israel’s security is to come not from its full, equal, unstinting inclusion in the community of nations as well as its national power, but from national power alone.
Kushner also offered a strange critique of the Palestinian National Authority, considering his father-in-law’s composure when things go south for him. “Right now, what’s Palestinian leadership?” he asked. “You’re talking about them like they’re great diplomats — what are they calling for? They’re calling for a day of rage. Who do you know that runs a state that when they don’t get what they want they call for a day of rage?”
The answer might be coming from inside the White House. Just last year, the president ranted about not being able to do “whatever he wants” regarding the Fed, and grew frustrated when he faced any pushback on his belief that the Constitution allows him to do “whatever I want.” And the day of rage called for by Palestine’s leading Fatah Party involving physical resistance — though no immediate reports of injuries — appears to be more politically warranted than Trump’s frequent calls for violence against his detractors.