Trump son-in-law, advisor and Israeli-Palestinian peace plan architect Jared Kushner has urged Israel to hold off on plans to annex settlements in the West Bank until elections take place and Tel Aviv’s long-running political stalemate is resolved.
Speaking to Gzero Media on Wednesday and commenting on the expected move by the Knesset to apply Israeli sovereignty to areas of the West Bank in the near future, Kushner said that “the hope is that they’ll wait until after the election, and we’ll work with them to try to come up with something.”
Asked if the US would support Israel if it moved forward to annex the territories, Kushner stressed that “what the administration is doing is we’ve agreed with them on forming a technical team to start studying, taking the conceptual map. The Jordan Valley can mean a lot of different things. And again, I want to make sure that we have all of the parameters defined”.
According to Kushner, the US and Israel would need a “couple months” to create a formal document “that we can both feel good about”.
“We’ll start working on the technical stuff now, but I think we’d need an Israeli government in place in order to move forward, but we’ll see what happens,” Kushner said.
Israel is presently stuck in an unprecedented political deadlock which began following last April’s parliamentary elections, which failed to produce a viable coalition government. A second round of elections in September failed to break the deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud-led forces and the Blue and White opposition. Israelis are now set to go to the polls for a third round of voting in March. Until then, Netanyahu’s government is serving as a caretaker government.
On Wednesday, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein promised to “fast-track” any proposed bill on the annexation of parts of the West Bank in the wake of the unveiling of President Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ peace plan. Earlier, the Israeli cabinet announced plans to convene next Tuesday to vote on annexation. Earlier this week, after meeting with Trump, Netanyahu told journalists that the settlements could be annexed by as soon as Sunday.
Israeli settlers began moving to the West Bank shortly after taking over the territory from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. Today, an estimated 400,000 Jewish Israelis live in the territories, alongside an estimated 2 million Palestinians, who consider the settlements illegal. Israel claims the settlements are situated on historically Jewish land, and that they are important for the country’s national security. Jordan no longer has claims to the West Bank territories.
Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ Israeli-Palestinian peace deal proposes a two-state solution, recognising Israeli claims to settlement areas in the West Bank, recognises Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and provides the Palestinian Authority with a few neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem beyond the Israeli security barrier as its capital. It also offers the Palestinian Authority some $50 billion in investment in Palestinian territories and hopes to at doubling its GDP over the next decade.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas blasted the proposal almost immediately after its release, saying it was “not going to happen” and suggesting that the Palestinian people would throw it in the “garbage can of history.” “Jerusalem is not for sale, the ‘deal of the century’ will not go through,” he said. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza took to the streets this week in ‘days of rage’ to vent their frustration with the US proposal.