Kushner Speaks on Israel, Peace and the Potential Move of the US Embassy to Jerusalem
Arab nations are prioritizing an Israel-Palestinian accord before agreeing to a broad peace with Israel, Jared Kushner said Sunday. President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor on the Middle East also said the President has not yet reached a final decision on whether to move the United States embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Kushner made the comments at the Saban Forum in Washington, D.C., hosted by Israeli-born business mogul Haim Saban.
Movement Toward Peace
Kushner said the United States has “tried really hard to do a lot of listening — not just with Israelis, with Palestinians” in the effort to foster peace to the region. The administration understands “what their views and red lines are. We’ve done the same with different countries in the region. We’re trying to find a solution that comes from the region, not to impose.” Listening has paid off. “Both sides really trust the President, and that’s important.”
Trump taking on ISIS and Iran has helped as well.
A lot of countries in the Middle East want the same thing – economic progress, peace for their people. Many countries in the region see Israel as a much more likely ally than it was 20 years ago because of Iran, because of ISIS. A lot of people want to see [a peace agreement] put together. We’ve made significant progress. It will take some time, but if you look at the last years before we came into office, a lot of countries felt Iran was being emboldened and there was no check on their aggression. The president has been very clear about his intentions on this issue, and going to Saudi Arabia and laying out a priority of fighting Iran’s aggression was significant.
Even if there is a desire for peace, the road remains rocky. “You see a lot of reasons why this deal could go south very quickly, and there are a ton of distractions,” he said. Those distractions tend to be tied to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Kushner said a lot of the issues that come up on a daily basis are due to the lack of a final-status agreement [between Israel and the Palestinians]. “The Saudis care a lot about the Palestinian people. They believe the Palestinian people need to have hope and opportunity, and this has been a big priority for the king and the crown prince – finding a solution to this problem.” Other Arab nations in the region share the same view.
Said Kushner, “I think that if we’re going to try and create more stability in the region as a whole, this issue has to be solved.”
But, he said, despite the distractions and issues, “I am optimistic that there is a lot of hope.”
Moving the Capital to Jerusalem
Kushner was asked about reports President Trump will recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and/or order the U.S. Embassy moved from Tel Aviv to the City of David.
“The president will make his decision; he’s still looking at a lot of different facts,” said Kushner. “He’ll make sure he does that at the right time.”
The New York Times reported Saturday that Trump plans on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, but will hold off moving the embassy for now. The President vowed to move the embassy during the campaign. Last summer, Vice President Mike Pence told Christians United for Israel, “I promise you that the day will come when President Donald Trump moves the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. It is not a question of if, it is only when.” Just last week, Pence said the President is “actively considering when and how” to move the embassy.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned Sunday that American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would jeopardize the White House’s Mideast peace efforts.
“Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally,” Abbas told a group of Arab lawmakers from Israel, according to the official Wafa news agency.
The terrorist group Hamas threatened a new “intifada” if Trump recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “We warn against such a move and call on the Palestinian people to revive the intifada if these unjust decisions on Jerusalem are adopted,” Hamas said in a statement Agence France-Presse (AFP).
Of course, Jerusalem is the historic and spiritual capital of Israel and has been for over 3,000 years. King David made the city his capital around 1010 B.C. after he defeated the Jebusites.
David and all Israel marched to Jerusalem, that is Jebus, where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land. The inhabitants of Jebus said to David, “You will not come in here.” Nevertheless David took the stronghold of Zion, now the city of David. (1 Chronicles 11:4-5)
Trump is expected to announce whether to recognize Jerusalem as modern Israel’s capital on Wednesday.
You can watch Jared Kushner’s entire forum appearance below: