WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump’s Mideast peace envoy Jared Kushner on Thursday derided an upcoming press conference with former prime minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas — in which they plan to condemn the Trump peace plan — as “almost pathetic” and coming from a place of envy that the two had failed to solidify a final accord.
“It is almost pathetic that they are criticizing other people’s efforts to try and reach an agreement,” Kushner said. “It comes from a lot of jealousy that they couldn’t do it themselves.”
The president’s son-in-law and special adviser was speaking to reporters at the United Nations after briefing the UN Security Council briefing on the Trump proposal, which was unveiled last week.
Olmert and Abbas, he insisted, shouldn’t criticize the White House’s attempt to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“If you really want to make peace, then you need to encourage the efforts of other people to try and make peace instead of trying to make headlines when you are not relevant and intervening in the situation to get attention,” Kushner said.
The two, he added, are “publicly opposing the plan when they had the chance and failed, I see that as disrespectful.”
On Thursday, Olmert and Abbas announced that they will meet in New York City next Tuesday and participate in a joint press conference to discuss the president’s peace plan.
Channel 12 was the first to report on the event. Olmert is expected “to express his opposition” to the US administration’s proposal and reiterate that he and Abbas nearly concluded a peace deal before he left office in 2009 amid corruption allegations. The former premier served 16 months in prison for bribery convictions in 2016 and 2017.
The conference will take place February 11 at 2 p.m. EST, a source confirmed to The Times of Israel.
Breaking with past American administrations, Trump’s plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel — if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, and fulfill other conditions.
The plan also allows Israel to annex settlements, grants the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and bars Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.
Olmert last publicly met Abbas in Paris in December 2018, during which time he spoke highly of the PA president and argued that — if he had remained in office — he and Abbas would have achieved a peace deal.
“President Abbas never said ‘no’ to my plan,” he told Palestine TV, the official PA station, at the time. “It is true he did not say ‘yes,’ but it is also true that — had I been prime minister for more time — there could have been peace.”
Olmert has said that he proposed in 2008 relinquishing almost the entire West Bank to Abbas, with one-for-one land swaps, dividing Jerusalem to enable a Palestinian capital and conceding Israeli sovereignty in the Holy Basin to an international trusteeship.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu succeeded Olmert as prime minister in 2009 and last met Abbas for direct negotiations in 2010.
Abbas is slated to arrive in New York City on Monday and deliver a speech to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday about the US plan.
Adam Ragson contributed to this report.