When Donald Met Bibi
Investigative journalist Vicky Ward, who wrote a new tell-all book, Kushner Inc., has been effusive about US President Donald Trump’s now-special relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying that POTUS was initially “reluctant” to meet Bibi.
“He and Bibi had a history. Two alpha males. Trump had thought Bibi didn’t treat him with respect”, Ward cited Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, as saying.
The two wound up meeting in autumn 2016, when Netanyahu arrived in New York for the UN General Assembly and met with both Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
The meeting, she penned, was considered a tremendous success, at least by Trump:
“Netanyahu and Trump each sat on a chair that looked like a throne. Netanyahu spoke for two hours and gave what Bannon called ‘a Middle East master class’”, Ward wrote.
The author then quoted an anonymous source who attended the meeting as saying that Trump let Jared Kushner speak freely, since he thought that Israel was one of the few subjects on which his son-in-law knew what he was talking about.
“In that conversation, Trump let Kushner jump in, because US-Israel relations was the one political issue anyone in the campaign ever saw Kushner get worked about. On the Israel stuff, Jared at least comes across like he knows what he’s talking about”, Ward penned.
Kushner’s Deal of Century
President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace plan once included a massive land swap scheme, in which Palestinians would get Jordanian land, while Jordan would get Saudi Arabian land, according to Ward.
“In return, Jordan would get land from Saudi Arabia, and that country would get back two Red Sea islands it gave Egypt to administer in 1950”, she wrote in the book.
In the explosive 300-page book, which looks into Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump’s role in the White House, Ward cited “multiple people who saw drafts of the plan” as saying that POTUS’ son-in-law wanted Riyadh and Abu Dhabi to provide “economic assistance” to Palestinians.
“Saudi Arabia… the key to Kushner’s burgeoning Middle East peace plan. […] There were plans for an oil pipeline from Saudi Arabia to Gaza, where refineries and a shipping terminal could be built. The profits would create desalination plants, where Palestinians could find work, addressing the high unemployment rate”, Ward claims.
Ward’s book did not reveal whether the land swap proposal was still in the so-called Deal of the Century, which the Trump administration said would not be presented until after the Israeli election set for 9 April.
President Trump’s special envoy for Mideast peace Jason Greenblatt, however, tweeted that the claims about the plan were false.
Sorry Amy. No one who has seen the plan would spread misinformation like that. Whoever made these claims has bad info. Next time feel free to reach out to us before you run with a story. A lot of people are sharing false info with the press now for bad reasons. https://t.co/6QMxuwvpmG— Jason D. Greenblatt (@jdgreenblatt45) 19 марта 2019 г.
The journalist also detailed Kushner’s alleged clashes with then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson over the Mideast crisis.
“Kushner took the Middle East from Tillerson’s portfolio. ‘I want Israel’, is how he put it, according to a former Tillerson aide… Tillerson, a former Boy Scout, tried to work with Kushner because he thought it was the right thing to do”.
Speaking with Sky News Arabia in late February, Kushner disclosed that the long-delayed plan would focus on “establishing borders and resolving final-status issues… The plan will have a broad economic impact, not only on Israel and the Palestinians, but on the entire region as well”.
Israel has been locked in conflict with the Palestinians for decades, with the latter demanding an independent state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip with East Jerusalem as its capital. Netanyahu, has, however, stressed that Jerusalem is the “undivided” and “eternal” capital of Israel.