16:10 GMT15 January 2021
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    US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser Jared Kushner was responsible for leading the “Peace to Prosperity” plan, an attempt by the Trump administration to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The plan, repeatedly refused by Palestinian leaders, was unveiled by the White House on January 28, 2020.

    Kushner has briefed incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the Trump administration's policies in the Middle East, David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, confirmed Monday during a closed hearing in the Israeli parliament, Axios reported.

    According to Friedman, Kushner briefed Sullivan on the Abraham Accords process, through which the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain normalized diplomatic relations with Israel last year in negotiations mediated by the United States. Sudan and Morocco have agreed to similar deals with Israel. 

    The Abraham Accords marked the first public normalization of relations between any Arab country and Israel since 1979 and 1994, when Egypt and Jordan, respectively, signed peace treaties with Israel. 

    During the meeting, Trump advisers expressed hope that US President-elect Joe Biden will continue to encourage the normalization of relations with Israel by Arab countries like Saudi Arabia, Axios reported. 

    During the meeting, Friedman also presented the Knesset’s foreign relations committee with his thoughts about what actions Biden may or ought to take in relation to Israel and the Middle East, noting that the president-elect is a friend of Israel and that the incoming administration will likely “press Israel on the issue of West Bank settlements, resume aid to the Palestinian Authority and continue to raise Israel's ties to China,” Axios reported.

    Friedman also noted during the meeting that Biden may attempt to resuscitate the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

    In May 2018, the Trump administration pulled out of the JCPOA and reimposed sanctions against Iran that had been lifted under the terms of the deal. 

    During the meeting, Friedman reportedly stated that Israel should not immediately confront Biden over Iran but instead ask his administration to start a dialogue with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries before having the US rejoin the nuclear deal. 

    Friedman also reportedly noted that Biden shouldn’t rescind Trump’s policies on recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital or recognizing Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, which were seized from Syria in 1967.

    Axios also reported that White House envoy Avi Berkowitz briefed an unidentified former Obama administration official, who may be tapped by the Biden team for a Middle East-related position, on the normalization agreements.

    In addition, Israeli lawmakers who attended Monday’s meeting confirmed to Axios that Friedman said he recently met with Dan Shapiro, the former ambassador of the US to Israel, to discuss the Trump administration’s policies in the Middle East. Shapiro “made clear” to Friedman during the meeting that he was not part of the Biden transition team, Axios reported.

    Under Trump’s so-called peace plan for Israel and Palestine, Israel would be allowed to exercise sovereignty over approximately 30% of West Bank territory and the Jordan Valley.

    In January 2020, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said his country answered the plan with “1,000 no’s,” the Associated Press reported.

    “We will not kneel and we will not surrender,” Abbas said at the time, noting that the Palestinians would resist the plan through “peaceful, popular means.”

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    Tags:
    White House, Palestine, Israel, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump
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