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Kushner: Punishing Palestinians won’t hurt deal

Washington- Three days after the Trump administration evicted the Palestine Liberation Organisation from its offices in Washington, Jared Kushner defended the latest in a string of punitive actions against the Palestinians and insisted that none of them had diminished the chances of a peace accord between the Israeli occupation regime and the Palestinians.

Speaking Thursday, 25 years to the day after the Oslo peace accords were signed, Kushner said President Donald Trump had actually improved the chances for peace by stripping away the “false realities” that surround Middle East peacemaking.

Kushner said he did not want to be too critical of the Oslo accords, which created the framework for peace negotiations over the last three decades. But he cast his own efforts as a radical break with the past, evincing little nostalgia for the historic images of Bill Clinton drawing together Yasser Arafat and Yitzhak Rabin in September 1993.

His confidence came at a bleak moment in his 19 month quest for an accord. The order to shut down the PLO office followed a series of cuts in US funding to Palestinian groups, as well as the decision to formally recognise occupied Jerusalem as the capital of the Israeli regime, all of which have alienated the Palestinians from the administration.

Palestinian leaders, he said, deserved to lose aid after vilifying the administration. And much of the money the United States poured into the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees and other Palestinian causes had been misspent.

Aid should be used to further national interests and help those in need, he said. In the case of the Palestinians, he argued the funding had evolved into a decades-long “entitlement programme” with no plan to make them self-reliant.

Kushner insisted the rift between the Palestinians and Washington was not unbridgeable, despite statements by top Palestinian officials that they will never again engage with Trump.

Kushner and his partner on the Middle East, Jason D. Greenblatt, continue to tinker with the language in the plan. They have expanded the team working on the project, in part to focus on fortifying the economic component – a particular focus of Kushner’s.

NYT

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