A top Palestinian official fired back at the Trump administration Sunday, after senior White House adviser Jared Kushner said in an interview that the Palestinian Authority was “scared” of US peace efforts and that he doubted its leadership had the capacity or desire to finalize an agreement with Israel.
“This whole administration is biased in favor of Israel,” Saeb Erekat told Israel’s Channel 10 news. “Their peace plan will fail. They want to impose facts, but that will not work for them.”
“They see us as terrorists, and Kushner himself said that [the Trump administration] wants to replace [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] and Erekat. It is unacceptable, we are the elected leadership of the Palestinian people,” added Erekat, the PA’s point man for peace talks.
In a statement, Erekat said “there’s nothing of substance” coming out of the Trump administration.
“Kushner’s interview again illustrates the US refusal to talk substance, to mention Palestinian rights or a Palestinian state. This is an attempt to push forward a plan that consolidates Israel’s colonial control over Palestinian land and lives while telling the Palestinian people that money will compensate for our inalienable rights,” he said.
“Plain and simple: Palestine and Palestinian rights are not for sale.”
Erekat added, “Kushner represents a policy of dictation rather than negotiations,” accusing the Trump administration of turning its back on negotiations. He also attacked Kushner for emphasizing the economic benefits peace would bring to Palestinians.
“It’s also outrageous to accept such blatant disregard of international law to be replaced with business packages to resolve the struggle of a people striving for their freedom,” he said.
Erekat’s comments came after Kushner told the East Jerusalem-based Al Quds newspaper he is ready to work with Abbas, but voiced doubt the 83-year-old leader has the ability or will to make peace because he has not altered his negotiating position in over two decades.
“There have been countless mistakes and missed opportunities over the years, and you, the Palestinian people, have paid the price,” Kushner said, according to a transcript of the interview provided by the White House. “Don’t let your leadership reject a plan they haven’t even seen.”
The top US peace adviser was in the region ahead of the launch of a fresh peace effort. The trip, which took Kushner and US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, to Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Egypt, did not include meetings with the Palestinian leadership.
Kushner, Greenblatt and other White House officials have been effectively blackballed by Ramallah, which was angered by Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his decision to move the US embassy there in May.
In the interview, Kushner said the Palestinians should speak to their own leaders and “give them the courage to keep an open mind” toward achieving peace.
Referring to comments by Abbas adviser Nabil Abu Rudeineh, who said Saturday that the US peace mission was a waste of time, Kushner said the Palestinian leaders fear the plan might receive popular support.
“I think the Palestinian leadership is saying those things because they are scared we will release our peace plan and the Palestinian people will actually like it because it will lead to new opportunities for them to have a much better life,” Kushner said.
“President Abbas says that he is committed to peace and I have no reason not to believe him,” he said. “However, I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal. He has his talking points which have not changed in the last 25 years. To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that.”
The interview was published a day after Erekat let loose at Kushner and Greenblatt, claiming they want to topple the PA and “liquidate” the Palestinian refugee issue.