Kushner: Palestinians made ‘strategic mistake’ boycotting Bahrain

PA response to US-led initiative “hysterical and erratic and not very constructive,” says senior Trump adviser. They “looked very foolish.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Senior Trump adviser Jared Kushner said the Palestinian leadership is making a “strategic mistake” with its point-blank rejection of last week’s Bahrain conference.

Kushner, who was the main initiator of the Peace to Prosperity summit, where he unveiled a detailed $50 billion plan to help the Palestinians reinvigorate their economy, intimated that those who head the Palestinian Authority (PA) may have trouble with their own people as a result of its boycott.

“Palestinians are starting to see that Israel is not responsible for their problems, it’s their leaders,” Kushner said during a phone-in press conference Wednesday. These leaders “will have to step up at some point and show that they want their people to live better lives.”

Kushner noted that a description of the economic proposal, which includes practical ideas on how to improve most areas of Palestinian lives, has been published online and has already been downloaded more than a million times.

“They looked very foolish by trying to fight this,” he said, adding that their reaction to the U.S.-led initiative was “hysterical and erratic and not terribly constructive.”

Kushner focused his criticism on those surrounding the Palestinian leader rather than on President Mahmoud Abbas himself. “Abbas wants peace,” he said, but “certain people around him are very uncomfortable with the way we’ve approached this, and their natural reaction is to attack and say crazy things.”

During the conference call, Kushner explained why the U.S. administration revealed only the economic side of President Donald Trump’s peace plan, saying it wasn’t feasible to release the political details before Israel had a new government in place. Israel is going to new elections on September 17 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition after the April vote.

“At some point there will be negotiations on the political issues, and when that happens, I think it will give a lot more comfort for these negotiations for people to see that there is a defined, locked-and-loaded economic plan for what could occur after a political breakthrough is reached,” Kushner said.