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Trump adviser Kushner questions Abbas desire for peace with Israel

  • Published at 05:39 pm June 24th, 2018
The Palestinian newspaper Al Quds that published an interview with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's senior adviser, is displayed for sale in a bookshop in Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, June 24, 2018 Reuters

Trump has called peace between Israel and the Palestinians the 'ultimate deal' and has tasked Kushner with formulating a plan to that end

US President Donald Trump's adviser Jared Kushner on Sunday questioned the ability and willingness of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas to make concessions for a peace agreement with Israel.

Kushner's remarks, made in a rare interview with Palestinian newspaper Al Quds, came as he and special envoy Jason Greenblatt were in the region to advance efforts to renew the stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"President Abbas says that he is committed to peace and I have no reason not to believe him," Kusnher said. "However, I do question how much President Abbas has the ability to, or is willing to, lean into finishing a deal."

"He has his talking points which have not changed in the last 25 years. There has been no peace deal achieved in that time," Kushner said. 

"To make a deal both sides will have to take a leap and meet somewhere between their stated positions. I am not sure President Abbas has the ability to do that."

Kushner and Greenblatt met on Friday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss "advancing the diplomatic process, developments in the region and the security and humanitarian situations in Gaza", according to the premier's office.

They held a second meeting Saturday night "to continue their discussions," the White House said.

The US adviser and envoy, whose regional tour took them to Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, did not meet with Palestinian official, who froze all contact with US officials following the Trump administration's December recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The Palestinians see east Jerusalem as their future capital, insisting the status of the disputed city is an issue to be negotiated between them and the Israelis.

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina said Saturday that American efforts, which "ignored" Palestinian positions on issues such as Jerusalem, statehood and refugees, were doomed to fail.

Trump has called peace between Israel and the Palestinians the "ultimate deal" and has tasked Kushner with formulating a plan to that end.

Kushner told Al Quds they were "almost done" preparing the plan, which could be presented without Palestinian consent.

"If President Abbas is willing to come back to the table, we are ready to engage; if he is not, we will likely air the plan publicly," he said.