Jared Kushner: 'Hands-on Leader' Trump Helped Draft Middle East Peace Plan—'People Will Be Surprised What's in It'

Jared Kushner, senior White House adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, has remained tight-lipped on his long-awaited Middle East peace plan but told a foreign policy conference that people will be surprised by its contents.

Speaking at an event organized by The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Kushner once again refused to discuss details or the rollout timeline of what he called a "virtuous" plan.

Though he admitted it would not be a "smart money bet" to back the success of the White House plan, Kushner told Washington Institute executive director Robert Satloff that the blueprint would hopefully revive discussion and lead to breakthroughs in the peace process.

"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," Kushner explained.

"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," he continued. "People will be surprised with what is in it, but I hope people will act rationally."

Kushner heaped praise on the president during his interview, describing Trump as "good at being flexible" and a "very hands-on leader." The president has been "very involved in creating this and creating the strategy," Kushner added, but clarified that Trump had not seen the most recent draft.

Kushner has been working on the plan with White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt for the past two years. Their efforts have been undermined by the closest U.S.-Israeli relationship in decades, which Palestinian leaders claim voided America's position as arbiter in the negotiations.

Following Trump's decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, effectively recognizing the disputed city as Israel's capital, the Palestinian National Authority refused to engage with White House–led negotiations.

On Thursday, Kushner reiterated the administration's stance on Jerusalem, calling it "a truth" that the holy city is Israel's capital. "That would be part of any final agreement anyway," he said.

The coming peace plan is expected to offer the Palestinians economic incentives to create new opportunities in the blockaded Gaza Strip and the West Bank, where unemployment remains high and living standards low. The American team has also been speaking with wealthy Arab states, hoping to secure commitments to infrastructure and industrial projects.

"We're building a very good business plan with a strong economic component for how Palestinians can move forward economically," Kushner told Satloff.

It remains unclear how committed the White House will be in consolidating and advancing the political rights of the Palestinians, especially given the administration's support for arguably the most right-wing, nationalist government in Israeli history.

The last government was led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, with whom Kushner has family ties. Netanyahu, who secured another term in office last month, has publicly disavowed the two-state solution, threatened to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and overseen the passage of a law declaring that only Jews have the right to self-determination in Israel.

Palestinians are demanding that Israel withdraw from all territories occupied after the 1967 Six-Day War. They include the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as part of a future independent state. Palestinians want to secure the right of refugees to return to those lands, plus recognition of east Jerusalem as the capital of their independent state.

"We tried to figure out how to design something that we think can be very acceptable to them, and the question will be whether the leadership has the courage to try to jump in," said Kushner. "It's been very disheartening for us that the Palestinian leadership has been attacking a plan [when they] don't even know what it is."

Kushner said the success of the plan will come down to whether Palestinian leadership has the "intent for preservation or whether they have the intent for the betterment of the lives of their people."

"We want the Palestinian people's lives to get better, and we want Israel's security to be stronger," he said. "Both parties have to give a little bit, but you'll gain a lot more than you give, and that's how you make deals. Compromise is important, and that's a noble thing."

Jared Kushner Middle East Peace Plan Donald Trump
Jared Kushner at the TIME 100 Summit in New York City on April 23. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Jared Kushner: 'Hands-on Leader' Trump Helped Draft Middle East Peace Plan—'People Will Be Surprised What's in It' | World
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