TEL AVIV – Jared Kushner let slip in a private, off-the-record conversation with congressional interns on Monday that he was not sure the Trump administration was able to add anything “unique” to the process of solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Kushner also praised Israel for installing and then dismantling metal detectors at the Temple Mount, blamed the Palestinians for incitement and backed Israel’s version of events during a deadly attack at the Israeli embassy in Amman.
During the conversation, which was recorded by one of the interns who then leaked it to Wired, Kushner first expressed support for Israel’s “rational” decision to install the metal detectors outside the Temple Mount following a July 14 terror attack that saw two Israeli Druze police officers shot and killed by Arab gunmen. He subsequently said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the right decision by removing the metal detectors following Palestinian riots.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, President Donald Trump’s senior adviser conceded that there may be no solution.
“What do we offer that’s unique? I don’t know,” he said. “I’m sure everyone that’s tried this has been unique in some ways, but again we’re trying to follow very logically. We’re thinking about what the right end state is. And we’re trying to work with the parties very quietly to see if there’s a solution.”
“There may be no solution, but it’s one of the problem sets that the president asked us to focus on. So we’re going to focus on it and try to come to the right conclusion in the near future,” he added.
Kushner said that when he was first tasked with handling the peace process, he studied its “historical context” and researched “who was successful, and who wasn’t successful.”
“And you … research it and look at the conventional sources but also try to get some unconventional sources as well.”
“What I’ve determined from looking at it is that not a whole lot has been accomplished over the last 40 or 50 years we’ve been doing this,” he added, adding that this conflict was particularly “emotionally charged.”
“Look at what happened this past 10 days — a lot of seemingly logical measures taken on the different [unintelligible] part somehow became a little bit incendiary,” he said. “But we were able to calm it down by having a lot of really great dialogue between Jordan and the Palestinian Authority and the Israelis.”
“So as tensions were really mounting, I don’t know if everyone is familiar, but there were two people—two Israeli guards killed at the Temple Mount, and that’s the first time in many, many, many years that that happened, so Israelis [unintelligible] putting up metal detectors on the Temple Mount, which is not an irrational thing to do. So then what happens is they start inciting it. They say look, you know, this is a change to the status quo. The Temple Mount is a [unintelligible] occupation of Israel, and Israel was saying we don’t want anything to do with that, we just want to make sure people are safe. And that really incited a lot of tension in the streets.”
He continued by criticizing the treatment of Netanyahu in the Israeli press following the premier’s decision to remove the meal detectors, a move that 77% of polled Israelis said was “capitulation.”
“Bibi was getting beaten up by the press in Israel, because that was very politically unpopular for him to do,” he said.
He also backed Israel’s version of events regarding an attack on Israel’s embassy in Jordan, in which a Jordanian teenager who attempted to stab a security guard was killed along with another Jordanian national. Jordan slammed Israel for the incident, and said the security guard should stand trial in Amman. Kushner, on the other hand, backed Israel’s assessment that the killing was done in self-defense.
He said, “We got a situation in Jordan where an Israeli security diplomat in Jordan was attacked by two Jordanian men, and in self-defense he killed the attackers.”
“If you’ve noticed about this conflict, and [unintelligible] nothing’s leaked out … which I think gives the parties more trust, and more ability to really express and share their viewpoints.”
“I think you need to be able to probe people in private for them to have the confidence that it’s not going to be used against them, and that it’s not going to leak out in the press, which would be very, very hurtful,” he added. “That’s been a big advantage, which has allowed us to really have a lot of very interesting conversations.”