Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-and-law and senior adviser charged with delivering a Middle East peace plan, on Tuesday told the Time100 Summit that his plan would not focus on a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine.
That approach, “failed” and that “new and different ways to reach peace must be tried,” said Kushner, being interviewed on stage.
Ambassador Richard LeBaron, who served in several countries in the region, said Kushner is ignoring history in taking this approach.
“You can’t take the political out of the peace process,” LeBaron, currently a nonresident senior fellow at The Atlantic Council, told ThinkProgress.
The Trump administration had promised that the plan would be delivered much sooner — first during the UN General Assembly in New York in September 2018, then within four months after that (which would have meant January 2019 at the latest), and most recently in “early 2019,” but before Israeli elections earlier this month.
Kushner — who without explanation compared Palestinians in Gaza to Houthi rebels in trying to overthrow the government in Yemen — said the plan now will be revealed in June.
He said its rollout will be timed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu forming a new cabinet (following his recent victory into a fifth term) and the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
— TIME (@TIME) April 23, 2019
The Trump administration’s approach to Israeli-Palestinian tensions has been to consistently side with Israel:
- President Trump recognized the sovereignty of the Golan Heights (territory that is legally under Syrian control). Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu proposed on Tuesday that a community there be named after Trump.
- He unilaterally decided to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city that is subject to ongoing negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
- He cut funding to the United Nations program providing aid to Palestinian refugees.
- He shut down the Washington, D.C. office of Palestine Liberation Organization.
- He endorsed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose hardline tactics included a promise to annex the West Bank, which is Palestinian territory.
LeBaron said talk of a peace plan has likely been “theater,” with the Trump administration planning all along to present something that was doomed to fail, so they could “blame the Palestinians” for rejecting it. The alternative, of course, is a single state, Israel, with, possibly, more Arab citizens.
“All along I think they tried to focus on economic development as a key to satisfying Palestinian aspiration and dealing with objections that Israelis might have in terms of creating a viable [Palestinian] state,” said LeBaron.
But, he added, Palestinians know that that “without freedom of movement, without control over their own security, without some sort of state, in fact,” economic promises won’t amount to much.
“They’ve seen this show before,” he said.