Jared Kushner: “I’m not looking at the world as it existed in 1967. I’m looking at the world as it exists in 2020.”

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss a Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he and U.S. President Donald Trump discuss a Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/BRENDAN MCDERMID)


WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not bring a vote to the cabinet on Sunday to apply Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, senior Likud officials said Wednesday, just a day after the prime minister said he would do exactly that.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Army Radio on Wednesday morning that the vote would be moved due to “technical reasons.”

Netanyahu told the press after Tuesday’s unveiling of US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan that he would bring a proposal to apply Israeli law over the settlements to the cabinet’s weekly meeting on Sunday as part of the process to begin annexing the territories of Judea and Samaria.

Levin accompanied Netanyahu to Washington for the unveiling of the peace plan.

“We intend to bring the annexation decision as quickly as possible to the government,” Levin said, explaining that the government would need the legal system to support the vote. On Tuesday, Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit said that he would not regard the government’s decision to annex parts of the West Bank as illegal.

“In my estimation, [the vote] will not happen on Sunday, for the simple reason that preparation work needs to be done,” he said.

Levin’s comments came only hours after senior US advisor Jared Kushner said in an interview with CNN that he is not aware of a possible Israeli move to vote to apply Israeli law to Israeli settlements in the West Bank on Sunday.

“I don’t believe that’s going to happen this weekend, at least not as far as I know,” he told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Kushner added that the administration’s peace plan recognizes reality on the ground. “[In] a lot of these areas… the reality is that Israel’s there, and they’re not leaving,” he said.
“There’s never been a deal where they’ve contemplated doing that. And it’s not pragmatic. I’m not looking at the world as it existed in 1967. I’m looking at the world as it exists in 2020. You have five million Palestinians who are really trapped because of bad leadership.

“What we’ve done is we’ve created an opportunity for their leadership to either seize or not,” he continued. “They have a perfect track record of missing opportunities. If they screw this up, I think that they will have a very hard time looking at the international community in the face saying they’re a victim, saying they have rights.

“This is a great deal for them,” Kushner said. “If they come to the table and negotiate, I think they can get something excellent.”

EARLIER ON Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that Israel can start the process of applying Israeli law to the Israeli settlements. “Israel does not have to wait at all,” he said in a phone briefing with reporters. “The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration [and] the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with the conceptual map,” he added.

“When you see the map, you’ll see the map is on a scale of about 100,000 to 1,” he said. “So you really can’t do anything that generalized. Israel will have to go through its own process, whatever that process is. I’m not an expert. And if they determine that they wish to apply Israeli law to those allocated to Israel, we will recognize it.”

Kushner also stressed in an interview with news channel Al-Arabiya that Trump convinced Israel to concede on many issues as part of the proposed Middle East peace plan released on Tuesday.

“For many years, Israel has not agreed to a two-state solution,” he said. “It took President Trump – who is very, very close with Israel, who’s done a lot of things for Israel, who has credibility with Israel – in order to convince the Israelis that it was time for Palestinians to have a state of their own.”

“I think the Israelis would be flexible on certain things,” added Kushner. “Some things they won’t be flexible on, some things they will be flexible on. But to make a final peace with the Palestinians, I think you’ll see the Israelis do a lot of things you’d be surprised of.”

The White House adviser stressed that the plan will double the size of the territory that the Palestinians have now and will allow the Palestinians to “live a better life” – on condition that they come to the negotiating table.

A Palestinian state could be formed tomorrow, “if they show up to the table and agree to the different terms and conditions,” Kushner said.

“These are not wild terms and conditions. These are terms and conditions that every other state in the world has to abide by,” he said. “Nobody is entitled to just become a state because you want to be. You have to show the world that you’re ready to be a state.”

Kushner urged the Palestinians to read the plan and to see with their own eyes that the US takes their political ambitions seriously, according to the Palestinian Al-Quds news.

“My hope is that we put out a framework and [have] gotten Israel [to be] a much stronger party to show that they’re willing to make huge, historic compromises – with the hope that now the Arab world will support it and show the Palestinian leadership that it’s time to stop corruption in the West Bank, and it’s time to stop corruption in Gaza,” stressed Kushner. “The Palestinian people deserve a better future.”

The plan is “rooted in the principle that a lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians must be based on an agreement that satisfies the basic aspirations of the two peoples – in a manner that guarantees security, dignity and opportunity for all,” he told Al-Quds.

Kushner added that, “even during the Oslo Accords negotiations,” Israel wasn’t ready to recognize a Palestinian state, but that now this is something that can “actually be achieved.”

CONCERNING JERUSALEM and Al-Aqsa Mosque, Kushner told Al-Arabiya that Muslims and Palestinians will be able to pray there freely as long as they don’t go there to incite violence, hatred and destruction.

Kushner added that the map that was released on Tuesday was a “conceptual map” and that a technical map would be drawn up over the next few months.

The senior adviser urged the Palestinians to come to the negotiating table if they don’t like the current borders and state their specific opposition.

“You’re not going to get that by doing a day of rage. all [that] doing a day of rage shows is that they’re not ready to have a state. That’s not what people with states do,” said Kushner.

“Repeated ranting of old slogans and insults did not result in a better life for the Palestinian people,” Kushner told Al-Quds.

“If Palestinians feel like if it’s not the right thing, they want to change something, they can go on page 13, 42 and 25, and say ‘on this line we want this, on that line want that, on the map we want to move this here.'” Kushner told Al-Arabia. “But wholehearted rejections will show the world that they are not interested in peace, they have never been interested in peace. And, quite frankly, in the Palestinian areas, you have a lot of people that are very vested in the status quo.”

Kushner pointed out that Israel is not a threat to Saudi Arabia and that it could be Saudi Arabia’s biggest ally in advanced technology and defense if peace is reached – since the the Gulf kingdom, the US and Israel are all facing a joint threat from Iran.

The proposed Palestinian state would be tasked with absorbing “a lot” of the Palestinian refugees around the region, but part of the refugees would need to work with their host countries to gain residency. A $50 billion economic plan and a compensation fund will be made available to help deal with the refugees.

Kushner warned that if nothing is done with the deal, the situation will only get worse and worse until a deal can’t be made. “It’s difficult to come up with a construct where you have a continuous Palestinian state, where you can drive from one end to the bottom through bridges, tunnels, roads. We figured it out, it was not easy. And then we were able to sit with Israel and get them to agree to freeze settlement for four years. That has never been done before. And get them to agree to a Palestinian state, and get them to agree to a map.”

“The question comes down to, what will the Palestinian leadership do? Again, they always miss the opportunity – and everyone in the Middle East jokes about it – but this isn’t funny,” stressed Kushner.

The senior adviser admitted that there is a “very high chance” that the current Palestinian leadership will “screw this up,” which is why the plan includes a four-year window to work it out.

“I do hope that all the Arab leaders and Arab people throughout the region who care about the Palestinians will come together and tell them that this is an opportunity: Don’t blow that like you’ve blown every opportunity you have had,” Kushner said.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post