Jared Kushner’s Mission Impossible

Jared Kushner and Benjamin Netanyahu. (photo: ABC News)

Jared Kushner’s quest for peace looks increasingly doomed.

By Adam Taylor / The Washington Post
August 25, 2017

Kushner’s trip has only highlighted the sizable obstacles he faces. Here are five of the biggest:

  1. The Israelis
  2. The Palestinians
  3. The rest of the Middle East
  4. President Trump
  5. Kushner himself

White House adviser Jared Kushner headed back to Israel and the West Bank this week in a renewed push to broker Middle East peace, just one of several responsibilities the administration has handed to President Trump’s 36-year-old son-in-law.

Despite Kushner’s unusually varied workload — he’s also tasked with reforming veterans’ care, solving the opioid crisis, something to do with “American innovation,” and more — this is his second trip to the region in the space of just three months. That may be a sign of how keenly the new administration is chasing peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which Trump has described as the “ultimate deal.”

A few months ago, there was actually some cautious optimism among Middle East watchers that Trump might be able to make some progress. Sure, he and Kushner don’t have any diplomatic or political experience, but so what? Trump was a self-described dealmaker who didn’t have much of the political baggage of his predecessors. The experts hadn’t done so well finding a solution, so why not give them a try?

But that optimism has faded, and Kushner’s trip has only highlighted the sizable obstacles he faces. Here are five of the biggest:

The Israelis

As The Washington Post’s Loveday Morris and Ruth Eglash noted this week, a lot has changed in Israel since Kushner’s last visit in June. A corruption scandal swirling around Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put him on the defensive, and a criminal indictment now looks possible. Some analysts think Netanyahu will refuse to make concessions that may anger the Israeli right — such as Jewish settlements built on the West Bank — to protect his political flank.

“Talk of scandal and indictment is swirling around Netanyahu and is pushing him to circle the wagons and reach out to his right,” Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center wrote for CNN this week. “Never a good omen for peace.”

Meanwhile, some Israelis grumble that the United States isn’t taking their problem seriously. “We are not in the administration’s priorities. They are preoccupied with other issues, and there is a feeling that they have very limited attention span,” an unnamed senior Israeli minister said to Jewish Insider.

[Read the full article here . . . ]

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