- Talks between Jared Kushner and Mohammed bin Salman have focused on a Palestinian state, report says
- The state would be backed by Saudi funding, it suggests
- Report claims senior advisor Kushner is failing to report everything to State Department
- He is also implicated in pro-Israeli lobbying at the U.N. before Trump's inauguration
by Rosie Alfatlawi
Establishing a Palestinian state is at the center of talks between Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
That is according to a new report by Bloomberg, citing “three people familiar with [U.S. Secretary of State Rex] Tillerson’s concerns.”
Kushner has traveled to Riyadh three times since Trump took office in January and is said to enjoy a good relationship with the Saudi prince.
The major goal of discussions between the pair is, the account suggestions, “an historic agreement featuring the creation of a Palestinian state or territory backed financially by a number of countries including Saudi Arabia, which could put tens of billions of dollars toward the effort.”
The White House has disputed the characterization of the discussions, however.
“This description of our potential plan and conversations is flat out false,” Jason Greenblatt, Trump’s advisor on Israel, told Bloomberg.
“While we have obviously discussed economic support for a potential peace deal from many countries, not just Saudi Arabia, we have never discussed specific numbers with other countries and we have not linked a deal to Qatar.”
On Friday meanwhile, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir claimed that a solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is “not rocket science,” indicating that he awaited a new U.S. proposal on the issue.
Given that U.S. President Trump has placed Kushner at the head of efforts to achieve a peace deal, it would seem that the anticipated proposal will be heavily influenced by the latter’s Saudi talks.
Jubeir indicated that he expected the final deal to fix the borders of a Palestinian state on pre-1967 lines, with adjustments for Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.
He added that his nation had poor relations with only two others: Iran and North Korea. It does not have relations with Israel, the Saudi said, because they are waiting on a peace deal on Palestine.
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While U.S.-initiated efforts for Palestinian-Israeli peace are hardly unprecedented, the extent of Saudi influence and Kushner’s role are causing worry, including within the Trump administration.
Bloomberg reported that its sources say Tillerson was “increasingly alarmed” by the “secret talks” between Bin Salman and Kushner. It is claimed the latter has failed to share full details of the discussions with the State Department.
There is also concern that the young Saudi could be exploiting the Kushner connection to secure influence in the White House, including gaining license for further action against Qatar.
It is also not clear whether Israeli or Palestinian leadership have had any say in the talks.
Reports in Israeli media last month claimed that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was summoned to Riyadh and told to accept a peace deal to be announced by Trump or resign.
A number of Israeli officials have publicly suggested that there is cooperation between Tel Aviv and Riyadh on the issue of Iran in recent times. It is not known, however, if friendlier relations have translated into discussions on peace with Palestine.
Some Arab Twitter users online have even alleged Saudi involvement in the proposed move of the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem which some reports suggest Trump will announce Wednesday.
“Watch the Saudi media,” tweeted @hamzaalhassan. “They will cover it up as if it did not happen.”
Still, earlier comments by Jubeir had insisted that “there are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.”
“There is the Arab peace initiative, which shows the road map to reach peace and establish normal relations between Israel and Arab states,” he added.
Revelations on Friday further highlighted Kushner’s questionable role on Israel-Palestine.
It is claimed that he led failed attempts to defeat the December 2016 U.N. Security Council resolution condemning illegal Israeli settlements, reportedly at the request of the Israeli prime minister.
NYT: Mueller’s investigators have learned through witnesses & documents that Israeli PM Netanyahu asked the Trump transition team to lobby other countries to help Israel, Kushner & Flynn led effort. 1/— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) December 1, 2017
Kushner was named as a “senior official” who in December 2016 instructed former Trump advisor Mike Flynn to contact foreign officials, including in Russia.
Flynn is being investigated over illegal Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
For many, that meant he was “not a neutral agent in the Middle East peace process.”
This is serious. Jared Kushner colluded with Israel during the election campaign to undermine official US Foreign Policy at the UNSC on settlements. Jared Kushner is not a neutral agent in the ME peace process . Period. https://t.co/VtA5jOI5yV— Susi Snowflake (@palestininianpr) December 2, 2017
That is unlikely to convince Trump, however. In January he said of his son-in law: “If you can’t produce peace in the Middle East, nobody can.”
“All my life I’ve been hearing that’s the toughest deal to make, but I have a feeling Jared is going to do a great job.”
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