Punitive measures taken against the Palestinians by the Trump Administration, including the cutting of UN aid and the closure of the Palestinian consulate in Washington, has not hampered peace efforts, the US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner has said.
Speaking to the New York Times on the 25 anniversary of the Oslo Accords, Kushner argued that the US had taken brave stances against Palestinian demands.
“There were too many false realities that were created — that people worship — that I think needed to be changed,” he said. “All we’re doing is dealing with things as we see them and not being scared out of doing the right thing. I think, as a result, you have a much higher chance of actually achieving a real peace.”
Since the election of President Donald Trump, US aid to Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA has been effectively wiped out, submerging the UN branch into its worst financial crisis. Last week, Washington further slashed $200 million of allocated aid to the Palestinian Authority, as well as $25 million meant to support six hospitals in East Jerusalem.
Kushner posited that the Palestinian leadership deserved the aid cuts for their reaction to the US’ decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
“No one is entitled to America’s foreign aid,” he said, adding that the funds that went to UNRWA and other causes were being misused.
On Monday, the State Department said it was closing the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) mission in Washington. The department said “the PLO has not taken steps to advance the start of direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel,” and pointed to Palestinian calls for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Israel as reasons for its decision.
Despite reports that the moves have pushed the PA to consider cutting its last ties with the US government, including security cooperation, Kushner said that Palestinian anger did not negate the chances of a peace deal with Israel.
“In every negotiation I’ve ever been in,” he said, echoing his father-in-law by drawing on his previous experience in the real estate sector, “before somebody gets to ‘yes’, their answer is ‘no’.”
The US has been working on the second edition of its proposed “deal of the century” since last summer, after its initial release was met with criticism. The proposal had ruled out the two-state solution as an answer to the crisis, instead giving Jordan and Egypt control of the West Bank and Gaza respectively. The plan was further undermined a week later when leaked footage revealed Kushner expressing doubt as to whether there was any solution to the conflict.
The details have not been released, but preliminary reports indicate that the second peace deal will also not call for a two-state solution and will not urge a “fair and just solution” to the issue of Palestinian refugees looking to return, as previous proposals have done.
Last month, it was revealed that Kushner has been pushing for the refugee status of thousands of Palestinians to be removed in an effort to halt the majority of UNRWA’s operations.