When he became president, Donald Trump put Israel/Palestinian peace talks in the hands of his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. It was an odd choice since the conflict has raged for years and Kushner has no international policy experience.
Isreal has been happy with Trump and Kushner, particularly in their plans to move the Israeli embassy to Jerusalem. Palestine has been less happy, and their chief negotiator claims he hasn’t spoken with Kushner in over a year.
The negotiator, Saeb Erekat, argued with Kushner about U.S. plans to move the embassy. The conversation devolved into a shouting match and they have not spoken since.
Erekat had pressed Kushner to sign a waiver promising not to move the embassy. He told him, “Look: if you do this, you will have disqualified yourself from any role in the peace process.” The president’s son-in-law responded, “Don’t threaten me.”
Kushner then told Erekat, “You don’t know the changes that are happening around you in the Arab world.” Aghast at the suggestion, Erekat asked Kushner to explain the changes to him. Kushner accused the negotiator of being sarcastic, causing Erekat to exclaim, “Do you think Arab countries will open embassies in Tel Aviv and accept Jerusalem, with the al-Aqsa mosque, as Israel’s capital? To them, Jerusalem is a red line — all of them! Saudis, Qataris, Egyptians, Jordanians, Bahrainis. So what are you talking about?’”
At this point, the meeting came to an end and the men have not spoken again. Creating an ongoing and peaceful dialogue has been a challenge of every president since Jimmy Carter. While Trump has proposed a two-state solution, that policy has been met with push back from both countries.
The negotiations are delicate and Kushner might not be the best person for the job. Erekat says of the president’s son-in-law, “Theodore Roosevelt once said the White House is an office of international morality. And he’s right. But this White House needs giant statesmen, not real estate agents.”
What's Your Reaction?
Todd Neikirk is a New Jersey-based politics and technology writer. His work has been featured in psfk.com, foxsports.com, and PoliticusUSA. An avid pet lover, he has been known to contribute to Pet Lifestyles Magazine. He enjoys sports, politics, technology, and spending time at the shore with his family.