Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Jared Kushner calls on Israel to hold off on annexing West Bank settlements

Israelis and Palestinians should avoid any moves until US peace plan is revealed, White House adviser says

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in the US capital on May 2, 2019. Reuters
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner speaks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in the US capital on May 2, 2019. Reuters

Israel should wait to see Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan before proceeding with any plans to annex West Bank settlements, the US president's senior adviser Jared Kushner said.

Speaking at a dinner of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on Thursday, Mr Kushner said the peace proposal he had been putting together would be released soon and that Israel and the Palestinians should examine its contents before taking further steps.

"I hope both sides will take a real look at it, the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps are made," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed during his re-election campaign to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, triggering condemnation from Palestinians and Arab states.

Mr Kushner said the issue would be discussed with Israel once Mr Netanyahu formed a governing coalition.

Mr Kushner and the US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have spent two years developing a peace proposal that Washington hopes will provide a framework for renewed dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. The plan is expected to be unveiled after Ramadan.

The Palestinians have refused to talk to the US side since Mr Trump decided to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognise the contested city as the capital of Israel.

The Palestinians want to establish a state comprising the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory Israel captured in 1967. However, Mr Kushner indicated that his plan would not follow the long proposed two-state solution sought by the Palestinians.

"If you say 'two-state,' it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians," he said.

"We said, you know, let's just not say it. Let's just say, let's work on the details of what this means.

"What we will be able to put together is a solution that we believe is a good starting point for the political issues and then an outline for what can be done to help these people start living a better life," said Mr Kushner, who is married to Mr Trump's daughter Ivanka.

Palestinians are sceptical about any US proposals after a series of pro-Israel moves by Mr Trump's administration and the tough line he has taken toward them, cutting off aid and ordering the closure of the PLO's office in Washington.

"I was given the assignment of trying to find a solution between the two sides and I think what we'll put forward is a framework that I think is realistic ... it's executable and it's something that I do think will lead to both sides being much better off," Mr Kushner said.

Previous statements by Mr Kushner and Mr Greenblatt suggest that the peace proposal will have two main components – a political part that addresses core issues such as the status of Jerusalem, and an economic part that aims to help the Palestinians strengthen their economy.

Updated: May 3, 2019 04:04 PM

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