In rare public remarks, Kushner to discuss peace push at DC confab

In rare public remarks, Kushner to discuss peace push at DC confab

In conversation with Clinton supporter Haim Saban, Trump’s senior adviser will speak about efforts to resume Israeli-Palestinian talks

Eric Cortellessa covers American politics for The Times of Israel.

Jared Kushner speaks t a White House meeting in Washington, June 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
Jared Kushner speaks t a White House meeting in Washington, June 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

WASHINGT0N — US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner will make a rare public appearance on Sunday, when he partakes in a keynote conversation at the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum in Washington, D.C.

Kushner, 36, has been tasked by his father-in-law to lead the White House’s efforts toward forging an Israeli-Palestinian peace accord.

He will discuss those efforts and the administration’s broader Middle East approach with Haim Saban, the Israeli-American media mogul who hosts the prestigious confab in collaboration with Brookings.

Saban is also a major Democratic donor and has financially backed former secretary of state Hillary Clinton — Trump’s 2016 campaign rival — in the past.

President Barack Obama, speaking (with Haim Saban) at the Saban Forum in Washington on December 7, laughs when asked if he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would analyze the Geneva deal with Iran differently. (photo credit: Saban Forum screen shot)

Despite Kushner’s holding such a prominent role in the Trump White House, he shies away from speaking publicly and has generally refrained from providing details on his team’s attempts to renew negotiations between the sides.

In July, he admitted that a peace deal might not be possible, in a leaked conversation with congressional interns.

“What do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know,” Kushner said in a recording obtained by Wired magazine. “We’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution. And there may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on.”

A series of reports over the last weekend indicated that Kushner’s once massive White House portfolio was shrinking and that he would make fewer public appearances. His biggest responsibility remains trying to make a breakthrough on the Israeli-Palestinian front.

US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and chief Middle East adviser, Jared Kushner left, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem on June 21, 2017. (Amos Ben Gershom)

“Jared is working very hard on peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and the last thing I would ever do is get in the way of that possibility,” the president said in an email chain forwarded to The New York Times. “Jared has been very effective since the earliest days of the campaign and the same is true today.”

If the Saban Forum’s general format is applied to the presidential adviser, Kushner will not just take questions from Saban, but also from an assortment of pre-selected journalists and foreign policy experts in the audience.

Last year’s Sunday keynote conversation — the culminating event of the three-day gathering — was with then US secretary of state John Kerry. In the past, it has hosted US presidents Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; Israeli Prime Ministers Benjamin Netanyahu, Shimon Peres and Ariel Sharon; as well as other Arab leaders like King Abdullah II of Jordan and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Former prime minister Ehud Barak will address the Forum on Friday night, in a conversation on the Iran nuclear deal with Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and The Atlantic’s Editor-in-Chief Jeffrey Goldberg.

The Kushner keynote discussion will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. EST.

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