White House senior adviser Jared Kushner delivers remarks on the Trump administration's approach to the Middle East region at the Saban Forum in Washington, US, December 3, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/JAMES LAWLER DUGGAN)
WASHINGTON – White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, discussed the upcoming “deal of the century” and said that “if people focus on the old traditional talking points, we will never make progress.” In an interview at the 2019 TIME 100 Summit, Kushner mentioned the Arab peace initiative of 2002 and said: “I think [it was] a very good attempt. But if that would’ve worked, we would’ve made peace a long time ago on that basis,” and added that the current peace team decided to put out a different plan.
“Our focus is really on the bottom up, which is how do you make the lives of the Palestinian people better? What can you resolve to allow these areas to become more investable? We deal with all the core status issues because you have to do it, but we’ve also built a robust business plan for the whole region.”
He reaffirmed that the plan would be released only after the Ramadan. “We were getting ready at the end of last year, and then they called for Israeli elections. Prime Minister Netanyahu had a great victory, and he’s in the middle of forming his coalition. Once that’s done, we’ll probably be in the middle of Ramadan. So we’ll wait until after Ramadan and then we’ll put our plan out.”
The peace team studied all the different past efforts, how they failed and why they failed, Kushner said. He flattered past negotiators and added that “there’s been some tremendous work done” by them. “It’s about as tough of a problem set as you can get. We’ve taken, I think, an unconventional approach,” the senior advisor continued.
“We’ve tried to do it a little bit differently,” Kushner explained. “Normally they start with a process and then hope that the process leads to a resolution for something to happen. What we’ve done is the opposite. We’ve done very extensive research and a lot of talking to a lot of the people. We’re not trying to impose our will.”
He avoided a question about the two-state solution and added: “I think that the document you’ll see, which is a very detailed proposal is something we created by engaging with a lot of people from the region. And people who have worked on this in the past. And I hope that it’s a very comprehensive vision for what can be if people are willing to make some hard decisions. And so we started with a solution and then we’ll work on a process to try to get there.”
“I think that the two together have the opportunity to push forward,” he continued. “And then from Israel’s point of view, their biggest concern is just security. And I think that what we do, is something that allows for Israel to maintain security.” Kushner reiterated that “there’ll be tough compromises for both,” and gave an original example to demonstrate why the sides should accept the plan: “I had a business mentor who would say to me then when he’d have to take tough decisions, you make a T chart – reasons to do something, reasons not to do something.
“And I hope that when they look at our proposal, I’m not saying they’re going to look at it and say, this is perfect and let’s go forward. I’m hopeful that what they’ll do is to say, look, there are some compromises here, but at the end of the day, this is really a framework that can allow us to make our lives all materially better. And we’ll see if the leadership on both sides has the courage to take the lead to try to go forward.”
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