In Brief

Jared Kushner expresses doubt that Palestinians can self-govern

White House adviser makes remark during rare television interview

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has expressed uncertainty over whether Palestinians can self-govern. 

In a rare television interview, Kushner, who is spearheading a White House effort to draft a new peace proposal for the Israelis and Palestinians, was asked whether he believed the Palestinians were capable of governing themselves without interference from the Israeli authorities. 

He replied: “That’s a very good question. That’s one that we’ll have to see. The hope is that they, over time, will become capable of governing.”

Speaking to HBO, the son-in-law of Donald Trump refused to be drawn on whether the White House plan would include a two-state solution. 

Referring to the Palestinians, he said it would be a “high bar” for them to expect freedom from Israeli military and government interference. But he added: “I do think they should have self-determination. I’m going to leave the details until we come out with the actual plan.”

He added that the Palestinians “need to have a fair judicial system ... freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions” before their territories can become “investable”.

Asked whether he understood why the Palestinians might not trust him, Kushner said: “I’m not here to be trusted” and added that he believed the Palestinian people would judge the plan based on whether “they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not”.

Bloomberg points out that Kushner is “notoriously press-averse” and that the interview “represents some of his most extensive public remarks since joining his father-in-law’s administration”.

During it, he was also asked repeatedly whether the "birtherism" conspiracy that former president Barack Obama was born in Africa, in which Trump played a leading role, was racist. 

Kushner avoided answering directly, saying: “I wasn’t involved in that.” But he added that the Democrats' claim that Trump is a racist does a “disservice” to people who experience “real racism”. New York magazine commented that Kushner’s “defence unwound with great speed”.

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