Kushner: Palestinians 'should have self-determination'

Trump's senior adviser: I'm not here to be trusted by Palestinian Arabs - they should not judge me but rather the peace plan.

Ben Ariel ,

Jared Kushner
Jared Kushner

Jared Kushner, one of the architects of the White House's Middle East plan, on Sunday cast doubt on the ability of Palestinians Arabs to govern themselves.

Asked in an interview on "Axios on HBO" whether he believes the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference, Kushner replied, "That's a very good question. ... The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing."

Kushner added that Palestinian Arabs "need to have a fair judicial system ... freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions" before the Palestinian territories can become "investable."

Asked whether Palestinian Arabs could expect freedom from any Israeli governmental or military interference, Kushner said, "I think that it's a high bar. ... If you don't have a proper government structure and proper security when people are living in fear of terror, that hurts Palestinians."

At the same time, Kushner also said in the interview that he believes the Palestinians "should have self-determination."

He was also asked whether he understands why the Palestinian Arabs don't trust him. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has been boycotting the US ever since President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December of 2017, and has rejected the US peace plan before it has even been unveiled.

Kushner replied, "I'm not here to be trusted" and added that he thinks the Palestinian people — if not their leaders — will not "judge anything based on trusting me," but instead will judge the Trump peace plan "based on the facts and then make a determination: Do they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not?"

Asked whether Palestinian Arabs deserve their own independent sovereign state with the capital in eastern Jerusalem, he replied. "There's a difference between the technocrats and ... the people."

While "the technocrats are focused on very technocratic things,” continued Kushner, “when I speak to Palestinian people, what they want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage."

Asked how he knows what the Palestinian people want given he's "not exactly walking on the streets of Ramallah every day," Kushner implied he's having lots of private conversations with regular Palestinians that people don't know about.

The interview comes ahead of the publication of the economic part of the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the PA at a conference that will take place in Bahrain on June 25 and 26.

A source familiar with the Trump peace plan recently told The Washington Post that it will include practical improvements in the lives of Palestinian Arabs but is likely to stop short of ensuring a separate, fully sovereign Palestinian state.

Kushner said last month that the Middle East peace proposal would be a “good starting point” to address the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict and a business plan to help the two sides have a better life.

He added that solving the conflict with the Palestinians is in Israel's long-term interest and said that Israel would have to make compromises, but not such that would put its security at risk.