Jared Kushner: “When you work for your father-in-law, you can’t disappoint”

White House senior advisor Jared Kushner engaged in a conversation with Rob Satloff about the much-anticipated Mideast peace plan at the Washington Institute’s 2019 Soref Symposium dinner at the Ritz-Carlton in Washington D.C.

In the 45-minute discussion, Kushner — tasked by President Trump to formulate the ‘ultimate deal’ — teased experts in Washington for their skepticism and blamed the Palestinian Authority for fomenting the conflict rather than solving it. [CSPAN]

HIGHLIGHTS — 
At the start of the 45 minutes discussion, Kushner described the peace plan as “an in-depth operational document.” He also assured the audience that the two sides and U.S. allies will be “very well consulted” before the plan will be presented, adding, “The good thing about what I do is that who I speak with, and when we speak to them — the people who need to know, know about it, but the people who don’t need to know, usually don’t know about it.”

And while remaining tight-lipped about specifics, Kushner maintained that the peace proposal will address “a lot of [the Palestinians’] political aspirations and a lot of their dignity — that is important to us.” 

Kushner on the two state solution: “If you say ‘two-state’ [solution], it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians. So we said, you know, let’s just not say it.”

On annexation, Kushner said he did not discuss the issue of the Israeli government applying Israeli law over settlements in the West Bank with Netanyahu, but added, “I hope both sides will take a real look at [the plan], the Israeli side and the Palestinian side, before any unilateral steps are made.”

Kushner, asked how he defines success, tells Satloff: “Our approach has been that if we are going to fail, we don’t want to fail doing it the same way it has been done in the past.”

Satloff: You want to be original in your failure? (laughter)

Kushner: “Well, hopefully, the goal is not to fail, but I think that what we want to do is to figure out how to do this in an intuitive way… We have tried to do this in a very rational way and, hopefully, that is different.” 

Satloff: Has the president read the plan?

Kushner: “The president has been involved from the very beginning… He is involved with the details. He is been pushing us, we have been reporting back to him with regularity. He’s read a lot of the parts of it. He hasn’t seen the latest draft because we have still been refining it, but the president has been very involved in creating this, in creating the strategy, and he’s a very hands-on leader. It has been a lot of fun to work with him on it because this is the one [issue] that he does care about and he would like to see it go forward with it in a good way.”

Satloff:Some time before you go public, I assume there will be some Oval Office meeting, or a Mar-a-Lago family dinner perhaps, where the president turns to you and asks, ‘Okay Jared, honestly, what’s your opinion ― this plan is going to have my name on it — is this going to be a winner? You know I like winners. I really hate losers. Which is this? We don’t have to do it. Is it worth it?’

Kushner: “When you work for a president, you try hard not to disappoint, but you can disappoint. When you work for your father-in-law, you can’t disappoint. So I think I have established a good track record now on all the different tasks he’s given me, I have come back with results and I have come back with good advice, and I do think that this is something that he will be proud of… People should root for this to succeed. I mean people should want this to succeed. I think people should want people to take these issues that maybe have held them apart for a long time and say, ‘Okay, 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, and compromise is important, and that’s a noble thing.’ I think that the president will lay out a framework that I think is very defensible, that has a lot of new ideas in it, and is something that, I think, he will be very proud of, and, hopefully, does lead to some breakthrough.”

At the conclusion of a panel discussion with Washington Institute experts following Kushner’s remarks, Satloff said that he stands by a previous bet he had with Dennis Ross that Trump will, in the end, not take the risk of rolling out a peace plan that is doomed to failure. “I look forward to gathering about two months from now… What Jared Kushner proposed tonight was essentially the traditional Arab version of a process, which is, ‘We can work on implementation, but we know what the solution is.’ He gave the Arab version of a process with a very pro-Israel version of the content. Will that succeed? My bet is we never see it, And so let’s find out.” Watch the entire panel, moderated by Susan Glasser, analyzing Kushner’s remarks here [Video]

The Wilson Center’s Aaron David Miller emails us: “Stunning that without saying anything, Jared Kushner said everything. The plan is clearly an effort to fundamentally change the traditional terms of reference of the peace process — to create a new reality that moves away from a two state paradigm based on core issues toward a transactional process driven by an economic and security trade off with token nods toward the political issues now impossible to resolve.

By Jacob Kornbluh in NY

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