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Kushner says 'no solution' to Israel-Palestine conflict in leaked speech

Kushner was appointed to restart negotiations between the two sides. [Getty]

Date of publication: 2 August, 2017

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Jared Kushner on Monday said the Trump administration does not offer anything "unique" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a leaked speech, questioning whether it is solvable at all.
Jared Kushner on Monday said the Trump administration does not offer anything "unique" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, questioning whether it is solvable at all.

Kushner, son in law to Donald Trump and a 36-year-old real estate developer with little experience of international diplomacy, was appointed to restart negotiations between the two sides, which have been frozen since talks collapsed in 2014.

Trump has repeatedly referred to solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as the "ultimate deal", but so far Kushner has made little progress in brokering anything substantial.

On Monday, Kushner spoke to a group of congressional interns, with a leaked recording of the question-and-answer session obtained by Wired providing a revealing insight into his negotiating strategy.

'We don’t want a history lesson'

"So, what do we offer that's unique?" he responded when asked about the White House's attempts to broker a deal.  

"I don’t know … I'm sure everyone that's tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we're trying to follow very logically."

Kushner said that he had spoken to "a lot of people" and had learned that the situation is "very emotionally charged".

But in an apparent dismissal of the historical and religious nuances of the conflict, he added: "We don't want a history lesson. We've read enough books."

Kushner's introduction to Middle East peace-making got off to a rocky start during diplomatic efforts in June.

Following a meeting in Ramallah, Palestinian officials said that Kushner's team of US officials "sounded like Netanyahu's advisers and not like fair arbiters."

In February, Trump appeared to break with decades of US policy on the two-state solution, saying: "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like".

'No solution'

Kushner offered no details on the particulars of a final deal, but said he is thinking about what the "right end state is" by working with both parties.

"And there may be no solution," he added, "but it's one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on."

Commenting on the recent escalation of tensions in Jerusalem, one of the most intractable final status issues, Kushner appeared to back Israel's decision to install new security measures at the site.

"Look at what happened this past 10 days — a lot of seemingly logical measures taken on the different [unintelligible] part somehow became a little bit incendiary," he said.

He also went on to lament criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over the crisis, saying "Bibi was getting beaten up by the press in Israel" after removing the new security measures.

The call by Palestinian religious leaders for worshipers to boycott the site was "not a very helpful thing to have said", he added.

Trump repeatedly made overtures about moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv during his election campaign, and his administration is seen as staunchly pro-Israel.

Netanayhu is a family friend of the Kushner family, while US ambassador to Israel David Friedman is a staunch backer of illegal settlements who opposes the two-state solution.

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