Palestinians slam Kushner, accuse him of ‘incitement’

The PA Ministry of Information also accused him of engaging in “deception” against international law and “promoting normalization” between Arabs and Israel.

June 24, 2018 19:14
4 minute read.
The Palestinian newspaper Al Quds that published an interview with Jared Kushner, U.S. President Don

The Palestinian newspaper Al Quds that published an interview with Jared Kushner, U.S. President Donald Trump's senior adviser, is displayed for sale in a bookshop in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, June 24, 2018.. (photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)


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Palestinian officials denounced US envoy Jared Kushner on Sunday over remarks he made during an interview with a Palestinian newspaper, and accused him of “incitement” against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The officials reiterated their opposition to US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East. They claimed the fact that Kushner had to address the Palestinian public through a newspaper was an indication the US administration had failed to win Arab support for the plan.

According to unconfirmed reports in several Arab media outlets, Egypt and Jordan have expressed strong reservations about the proposed peace plan.

Kushner’s direct appeal to the Palestinians – through an interview with the Palestinian Al-Quds newspaper published on Sunday – drew sharp criticism from several senior Palestinian officials. The officials said Kushner’s statements had failed to convince “even one Palestinian” that the US administration was capable of playing any role in a peace process.

The PA Ministry of Information accused Kushner of “incitement” against the Palestinian leadership. It also accused him of engaging in “deception” against international law and “promoting normalization” between Arabs and Israel.

“Washington is not an honest or acceptable mediator,” the Ramallah-based ministry said in a statement, in response to Kushner’s interview with Al-Quds.

Noting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to the city, as well as US support for Israel at the United Nations Security Council, the ministry said neither Kushner nor anyone else in the White House team was “authorized to talk about the specifications of peace.”

Kushner, in his first interview with a Palestinian newspaper, said Washington would be willing to engage with Abbas if he returns to negotiations with Israel, but if he is not willing, the US will likely announce its peace plan with or without the PA president.

Al-Quds, which publishes in east Jerusalem with an Israeli license, is the largest and oldest Palestinian newspaper.

Although it is privately owned, Al-Quds regularly serves as a mouthpiece for the Palestinian Authority. The other two major Palestinian newspapers, Al-Ayyam and Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, are based in Ramallah and serve as official representatives of the PA leadership.

“If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage; if he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly,” Kushner said in the interview. “However, I do question how much President [Mahmoud] Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal. He has his talking points which have not changed in the last 25 years.”

A senior journalist with Al-Quds told The Jerusalem Post that the interview was initiated by the Americans, and not by the newspaper editors.

“What Kushner did is outrageous and totally unacceptable,” a senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told the Post. “He and his boss, Trump, are mistaken if they think that such tactics will work. The Trump administration thinks it can incite the Palestinians against their leaders.”

The official described Kushner’s direct appeal to the Palestinian public as a “desperate attempt by a frustrated merchant to convince people to purchase his goods.”

Wasel Abu Yusef, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, claimed the US has failed to win the backing of some Arab countries for its peace plan. He said Arab leaders who met with US envoys Kushner and Jason Greenblatt during their recent tour of the region had expressed reservations about the proposed Trump plan.

“The Arab countries made it clear that their position remains clear, namely that a two-state solution should be based on international resolutions [pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict],” he added.

Nabil Sha’ath, a former PA foreign minister who currently serves as an “international affairs adviser” to Abbas, accused Kushner and Greenblatt of “working on behalf of Israel in the White House.”

Kushner’s interview, Sha’ath said, “was the best proof that the deal of the century has failed.”

He added: “Kushner tried to address our people directly [through the Al-Quds interview] because he could not find anyone who would listen to him in the Arab countries.”

PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said Kushner’s interview “again illustrates the US refusal to talk substance, to mention Palestinian rights or a Palestinian state.”

Erekat accused the US administration of attempting to “push forward a plan that consolidates Israel’s colonial control over Palestinian land and lives while telling the Palestinian people that money will compensate for our inalienable rights. Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale.”

Meanwhile, former PA information minister Nabil Amru criticized the PA leadership for cutting its ties with the US administration.
Amru, who is a senior official with the West Bank-based ruling Fatah faction, said the PA leadership could have rejected what was leaked about Trump’s peace plan without cutting its ties with the US administration. “No one knows why the Palestinian leadership did that because the situation remains unclear until now,” Amru told the Palestinian news agency Sama.

Amru, who in recent years has openly criticized Abbas and the PA over various issues, said the present Palestinian leadership is too weak to bear the consequences of its rejection of the “deal of the century.” The PA leadership, he added, does not have the ability to face any sanctions the US could impose on the Palestinians once they reject the American peace plan.

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