Kushner: Palestinians Need to Ask Themselves if They Want a “Better Life”
Not long after President Donald Trump held a joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to announce his long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East, his son-in-law Jared Kushner went on CNN to promote the plan. Kushner, who has been working on the proposal to end conflict between Israel and the Palestinians for most of Trump’s presidency, said he was dismayed to see Palestinian leaders reject the plan without even reading it. He told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that if the Palestinians turn their back on a decisive way forward, their misery will only be prolonged.
“You have 5 million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership,” Kushner said. “So what we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not. If they screw up this opportunity — which again, they have a perfect track record of missing opportunities — if they screw this up, I think they will have a very hard time looking the international community in the face, saying they are victims, saying they have rights. This is a great deal for them if they come to the table and negotiate I think they can get something excellent.
“The Palestinian leadership have to ask themselves a question,” he continued. “Do they want to have a state? Do they want to have a better life? If they do, we have created a framework for them to have it and we’re going to treat them in a very respectful manner. If they don’t, then they’re going to screw up another opportunity like they’ve screwed up every other opportunity that they’ve ever had in their existence.”
Palestinian leaders have been quick to dismiss the plan as a nonstarter, with some criticizing it as a distraction meant to give Trump and Netanyahu some breathing room amid their respective legal troubles. Meanwhile, Palestinian advocacy groups have slammed the plan as a gift to Israel that would only worsen the position of the oppressed.
But as The New York Times’ Bret Stephens points out, Palestinians should think twice about rejecting the plan out of hand – not least because every time they’ve done so in the past, they’ve wound up with less than they had going in.
“That was true after it rejected the 1947 U.N. Partition Plan, which would have created a Palestinian state on a much larger footprint than the one that was left after Israel’s war of independence. It was true in 1967, after Jordan refused Israel’s entreaties not to attack, which resulted in the end of Jordanian rule in the West Bank,” Stephens wrote. “It was true in 2000, when Syria rejected an Israeli offer to return the Golan Heights, which ultimately led to U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty of that territory. It was true later the same year, after Yasir Arafat refused Israel’s offer of a Palestinian state with a capital in East Jerusalem, which led to two decades of terrorism, Palestinian civil war, the collapse of the Israeli peace camp and the situation we have now.”
By announcing beforehand that they will have nothing to do with Trump’s plan, Palestinian leaders are either A) underestimating the degree to which Trump would LOVE to be the one who finally solves this crisis (and therefore, his willingness to pressure Israel to negotiate), or B) admitting to the world that they would rather prolong this conflict than actually commit to a resolution.
Either way, it’s a big mistake.