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Mahmoud Abbas (L), Jared Kushner (C) and Benjamin Netanyahu (R).(Photo by: REUTERS & MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Kushner speaks about peace plan, fuels election battles on Right
By HERB KEINON
02/26/2019
"We see that Iran is the greatest threat in the region."
The long-awaited US peace plan expected to be rolled out soon after the April 9 elections will seek to resolve border issues, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jason Kushner said in an interview aired on Monday that thrust the plan to the center of the election campaign.
 
Kushner, speaking with Sky News Arabia in Abu Dhabi during a five-country trip to the Middle East to rally support for the peace blueprint, said that the team that has worked on the plan for some two years has “been trying to formulate a realistic and just solution to these issues that will allow people to live a better life.”
 
Kushner said that the plan was “very detailed,” and “focuses on resolving the border issue – and if we can resolve this factor and bring peace away from intimidation, then we can guarantee people’s freedom.”
 
The interview was conducted in English, but was dubbed over in Arabic. It came a day after New Right Party leader Naftali Bennett said that Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are “coordinating the presentation of a plan to establish a Palestinian state the day after the election.”
 
Kushner said in the interview that the team focused on four core principles. “The first is freedom, where we want people to enjoy their rights of opportunity, religion and worship, regardless of their beliefs, as well as respect,” he said.
 
“The dignity of people should be safeguarded. They should respect each other and benefit from opportunities to improve their lives without allowing conflicts to jeopardize their children’s future and security.”
 
Kushner said that the Trump administration would like to see Gaza and the West Bank united under one leadership, rather than the situation that exists today.
 
“The Palestinians want a non-corrupt government that cares for their own interests,” he asserted.
 
In addition to visiting the United Arab Emirates, Kushner is also scheduled to make stops in Bahrain, Qatar, Oman and Saudi Arabia in an effort to enlist support for the plan. Kushner is being accompanied on the trip by US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and US envoy on Iran Brian Hook.
 
Kushner said that Washington has been able to keep a large part of the plan secret, and that in previous negotiations details were released prematurely.
 
“When we learned about previous rounds of negotiations, we discovered that many of the details came out before they were ready, which pushed the statesmen to flee from the plan,” he said.
 
Kushner said the plan will have a large economic component, and that the economic impact will not be limited to Israelis and Palestinians, but will encompass the entire region, including Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon.
 
Turning to Iran, Kushner said it represents the biggest threat to security and stability in the region. He said that Tehran – working through its agents and by the funding of terrorist organizations – “stands behind” the instability and terrorism in the region, which increases the number of refugees and decreases economic opportunities.
 
It took very little time for opposing political parties – especially those vying for votes on the Right – to go to battle over Kushner’s comments, with Bennett saying that his words “prove what we already know: that the day after the elections, the Americans will push the Netanyahu-Lapid-Gantz government to allow the establishment of a Palestinian state on Route 6, to agree to the division of Jerusalem – and Netanyahu will be forced to acquiesce.”
 
The answer, he claimed, is a “strong and powerful” New Right Party that will support Netanyahu as prime minister but “exert counter-pressure to stop the establishment of a Palestinian state.”
 
The Likud issued a response saying that “when Bennett and [Ayelet] Shaked established the New Right, they said that they did so in order to attract votes from [Yair] Lapid and [Benny] Gantz in order to enlarge the right-wing bloc, and that they would not shoot from inside the tank. Now they are making false accusations against the Likud in order to attract votes from the Likud, which will lead to Lapid-Gantz’s left-wing government, where their party will be larger than the Likud.”
 
And the new union of the Bayit Yehudi, National Union and Otzma Yehudit parties, known as the Union of Right-Wing Parties (URP), said that Trump’s “plan of the century” repeats “the failed paradigms that brought us more than 1,000 deaths and to thousands of missiles on Israel, and presents a clear and immediate danger to the existence of the State of Israel.” Only a strong religious Zionist party will prevent Netanyahu and the Likud from this type of dangerous adventurism, the party said.
 
On the other side of the political spectrum, Labor chairman Avi Gabbay welcomed Kushner’s comments, saying that “separation from the Palestinians on the basis of a two-state solution is in Israel’s interest.”
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