“The Iranian regime has exploited the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades – profiting from the chaos & violence to advance its malign activities & influence in the region,” Trump negotiator Jason D. Greenblatt tweeted Wednesday. “A successful peace agreement would be the Iranian regime’s worst nightmare.”
Kushner arrived in Israel on Wednesday as a major newspaper published an unconfirmed outline for a potential Camp David summit with Arab governments in the coming weeks, ahead of the rollout of Trump’s plan. A White House official said “no summit has currently been planned.”
Kushner was visiting Jordan and several other countries as a follow-up to an economic summit he held in Bahrain in June that was designed to show the economic payoff for Palestinians and their supporters if the decades-long conflict with Israel is resolved.
Opposition to Iran unites Israel with Arab states including Saudi Arabia. Casting a potential peace package as a way to counter Iran could help sell it within Israel as well, where powerful right-wing political groups oppose concessions to the Palestinians but also welcome a global hard line against Iran.
“It is clear that Iran is deeply invested in seeing this conflict continue,” Greenblatt and U.S. State Department special representative for Iran Brian Hook wrote in a Fox News op-ed Wednesday. “The Iranian regime provides $100 million annually in support to Palestinian terrorist groups . . . None of these funds [go to] humanitarian relief.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally, faces a crucial election in September. The White House is expected to try to boost his reelection prospects with a show of strong U.S. backing, but it is not clear whether the Trump administration
proposals would be released before the Sept. 17 vote.
The Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported on Wednesday that Trump would present a broad-brush version of his peace plan to Arab leaders at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland ahead of the Israeli election. The newspaper reported that Kushner would extend invitations for the session on his Arab tour this week. He is visiting Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe aspects of Kushner’s agenda, said such a summit is not planned but would not discuss the Yedioth report in greater detail.
Kushner’s delegation would “report back” to Trump, Vice President Pence and others “to discuss the many potential next steps to expand upon the success of the Bahrain workshop,” the official said.
The two-day economic session Bahrain in June yielded no specific pledges for Arab investment or donations for Kushner’s vision for jobs, businesses and improved mobility for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, an Israeli government official confirmed reports that the cabinet had approved building permits for approximately 700 housing units for Palestinian towns in the sensitive West Bank region known as “Area C.”
There was widespread speculation that Tuesday’s decision was intended to smooth the way for Trump’s long-anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, which Israeli media reported Wednesday would happen as soon as next month or in early September.
The cabinet decision to allow Palestinians to build in the area — where some 450,000 Jewish Israelis live on settlements considered illegal by much of the world — was slammed by leaders of the settler movement, a small part of Israel’s population that wields immense political power.
Netanyahu toured one of the largest Israeli settlement blocs in Area C on Wednesday, promising “no settlement will ever be uprooted.”
There were no details about where the new Palestinian dwellings would be located, but the official said they were for new units. The last time the cabinet approved such plans was in 2017, when 300 housing units received approval.
Area C makes up about 60 percent of the contested territory that Palestinians want to eventually become part of a nation-state and is under full Israeli control based on agreements reached under the Oslo accords 25 years ago.
Israel rarely approves Palestinian plans to build in the area. A report published in February by Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, citing data from the Israeli Civil Administration, noted that from January 2000 to mid-2016, Palestinians filed some 5,475 applications for building permits, but only 226 were granted.