Jared Kushner, son-in-law and senior aide of former U.S. President Donald Trump, and the co-founder of the Abraham Accords Peace Institute, shared concerns on Monday that more countries have not joined the Middle East peace project two years in.
Speaking at an AAPI and America First Policy Institute event to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the Abraham Accords, Kushner said that, at the time of his leaving the White House, about six other countries were in discussions to join the accords.
“I think that we had about six active discussions going on,” Kushner told the audience, with no mention of the countries involved. Nevertheless, last January, the United States was known to be nearing agreements with Mauritania and Indonesia before Trump’s presidential term ended.
Kushner was involved personally in the Abraham Accords negotiations and told the audience that he thinks “there’s a lot more to build on.”
“I do hope that the current administration will focus on that and work to do that because once the whole Arab-Israeli conflict is over, I think that you will have an era of prosperity and peacefulness in that region that will endure for a very, very long time,” Kushner said.
The Trump-era Accords normalized relations between the State of Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan. Although the Biden administration has spoken often about expanding the agreement, no additional countries have joined.
Nevertheless, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has worked to strengthen existing normalization agreements and hosted forums with the signatories to the Abraham Accords, opening them up to include other allies of the U.S. and Israel.
Biden managed to have Saudi Arabia open its airspace for more flights to and from Israel, in a step Washington and Jerusalem hope will bring Riyadh closer to normalizing ties with the Jewish state; at the same time, Saudi Arabia rejected the notion that this indicated it was moving toward normalization with Israel.
According to Kushner, the Trump administration succeeded to bring about the Abraham Accords by applying unconventional thinking to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
He spoke against viewing the Middle East through a sectarian Sunni-Shia lens: “We created a set of situations where we were putting the different leaders in a prism when we came into the job. Everyone said the Middle East is really about Sunni-Shia divides.”
Kushner said that leaders in the region were divided between those “who want to give their people better lives and give their people opportunity, and then leaders who are trying to justify their existence based on some religious perversion or some, you know, scapegoating of somebody else.”
The former presidential advisor defended Trump’s moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, noting that the general expectation that those decisions would lead to disaster were proven wrong.
“The next morning [after moving the embassy], the sun rose, and the same thing happened again with pulling out of the Iran deal, and people said, ‘If you do this, it’s going to lead to World War III; it’s going to be a disaster’,” he said.
He also said that pulling out of the Iran deal in 2018 stopped funding that would have gone to Iran’s proxies such as Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.