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Kushner fails security clearance, US officials concerned at ties with Israel

February 28, 2018 at 12:09 pm

US President Donald Trump (L), Jared Kushner (C), US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr]

US government and intelligence officials are concerned that foreign governments, including Israel, are manipulating US President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner, amid Kushner struggling to obtain the necessary security clearance for his role.

According to a report in the Washington Post yesterday, Trump’s National Security Adviser, General McMaster, “learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report,” and were concerned that Kushner was “naïve and being tricked” by certain governments, including Israel.

It was also reported yesterday that Kushner, after failing to acquire a long term security clearance, would be stripped of his access to top-secret government intelligence. The White House came under criticism last year when it emerged that Kushner, who has been tasked with forging peace in the Middle East, has been carrying some of the most sensitive diplomatic talks with only an interim security clearance

The report of Kushner’s loss of access came just hours after news broke that Kushner’s trusted consultant Josh Raffel, the leading spokesperson on the peace process, will be leaving the White House within the next two months for unspecified reasons.

Kushner has faced several controversies in his role as Middle East peace mediator. Last month, doubts were raised as to his suitability for the position, after a report revealed that Kushner has been benefitting from various property and investment trusts worth some $761 million, many of which have ties to Israel.

Read: US plans May opening for embassy in Jerusalem

In December, a team of US researchers found that the president’s son-in-law had also failed to disclose on government records his position as co-director of a foundation that funds illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

In November, Kushner faced further investigations after he contacted senior Israeli officials in an attempt to block a UN resolution condemning Israel’s occupation. Kushner is known to be close to several Israeli politicians and is a family friend of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last summer, Kushner was also criticised after leaked footage revealed him expressing doubt as to whether there was any solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict at all, a week after the US released their first controversial “deal of the century”.

Despite this, Kushner’s team are reportedly finalising the second peace deal, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stating earlier this month that the new plan is “fairly well advanced”.

However, relations between the US and the Palestinian Authority (PA) have soured following the US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The PA has cut numerous channels of communication with the Trump administration, and Washington has cut aid to the Palestinian refugee organisation UNRWA, freezing $65 million worth of funds and plunging the UN agency into a financial crisis.

Read: US says ready to talk Mideast peace; Abbas calls for conference