US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday launched scathing attacks against the Palestinian leadership, which he said has lied to the Palestinian public for years by promising them “fairy tales” that cannot be achieved.
In media interviews Kushner gave to the pan-Arabic Al Jazeera network and US broadcaster CNN, he answered questions about the Trump administration’s peace plan, which was released earlier in the day, and which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would agree to.
The plan does not include some key demands by Palestinians, such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem being part of their capital, the return of Palestinian refugees to live in Israel, and the removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank. It also allows for broad Israeli annexation moves. It provides for a future Palestinian subject to a series of conditions and limitations, with Israel retaining overall security control of the area.
“It’s time to let go of past fairy tales that quite frankly will never happen,” Kushner told Al Jazeera.
“The Palestinians have been lied to for so many years and they have been promised things and there has been no counter to the promises that have been made to them,” he said. “If they have expectations that are not realistic then I feel bad for them. They’ve been lied to by their leadership and they’ve been lied to by a lot of people and they’ve been used as pawns in the Middle East.”
In the past, he said, Palestinian leaders “have gotten all these demands and there hasn’t been a counter to explain why the positions are not rational or achievable positions, and, as a result of that, they have not made peace and the people’s lives have continued to suffer and they blame their suffering on Israel as opposed to blaming the suffering on the leadership.”
“The Palestinian people are on a terrible trajectory thanks to a lot of bad decisions by their leadership,” Kushner continued. “They have to stop holding out for myths that will never come, and fairytales that will never come.”
“The Palestinian Authority would rather go and complain as opposed to come to the table and negotiate, which, quite frankly, shows that they are not ready to have a state,” he said.
Kushner said that if the Palestinians are prepared to negotiate, they will find in Israel a “very willing partner” for any suggestions that will make the lives of Palestinians better.
The Palestinian people need an opportunity “to lead a better life. They need dignity, they need jobs, they need opportunity, they need good leadership,” Kushner said. “This is the best opportunity they have ever had and I really hope they seize it.”
He claimed that, throughout the world, there are those who care about the Palestinian people and are urging their leadership to negotiate on the basis of the Trump plan.
“The entire Arab world is begging for the Palestinians to resolve this. You have security cooperation with Israel going on. Israel is a technology superpower; people want to do business with them. There’s a lot that can happen now that could be very, very positive for the region and the world,” Kushner said.
Breaking with past US administrations, the plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in part of the West Bank, a handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and some areas of southern Israel — on condition that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state and Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip disarm.
The plan also calls for allowing Israel to annex settlements, granting the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, as well as ongoing overall security control west of the Jordan River, and barring Palestinians from entering Israel as refugees.
Jerusalem would remain “the undivided” capital of Israel, Trump stressed as he unveiled the plan in the White House Tuesday, with Netanyahu standing next to him.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas firmly rejected the plan in a speech to senior Palestinian leaders, including representatives of the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups.
“We say a thousand times: No, no and no to the ‘deal of the century,’” Abbas said, adding that the US plan “will not come to pass” and that “our people will send it to the dustbins of history.”
Speaking to CNN, Kusher also accused the Palestinian leadership of calling a “day of rage” in the West Bank in response to the peace plan. While Hamas called for a day of rage, the PA did not, but Abbas indicated that his forces would not stand in the way of protesters.
“What are they calling for? They are calling for a day of rage,” Kushner said. “Who do you know who runs a state that when they don’t get what they want they call for a day of rage? That’s not how people who are capable of running a state work.
“If they screw up this opportunity — and again, they’ve had a perfect track record of screwing up opportunities — I think they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face saying they’re victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them if they come to the table and negotiate,” he said.
Jared Kushner, senior adviser to the President, says the White House's Middle East plan is "a great deal" and if Palestinians reject it, “they’re going to screw up another opportunity, like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.” pic.twitter.com/ABAI3gKjig
— CNN (@CNN) January 28, 2020
“The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question,” Kushner said. “Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, then we have created a framework for them to have it and we will treat them in a very respectable manner. If they don’t, then they are going to screw up another opportunity just like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity in their existence.”
“You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership,” he added.
The plan, he said, “unquestionably” makes the lives of Palestinians better and makes Israel “much more secure.”
With Israel having agreed to the plan, “you are going to see them becoming less and less isolated internationally and you’re going to see more and more pressure put on Palestinian leadership to do it.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report