August 14, 2022

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In a new book, Kushner claims envoy Friedman went rogue to agree to annexation of the West Bank

In a new book, Kushner claims envoy Friedman went rogue to agree to annexation of the West Bank

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman became a villain when he told then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the Trump administration would support plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, former White House adviser Jared Kushner confirmed in a new book due to be published later this month.

Kushner’s account, the latest report from a former Trump administration official offering a peek into the somewhat chaotic White House rollout of the 2020 peace plan, appears to contradict Friedman, who insisted when he published his private memoirs earlier this year that it was . In a close move with Kushner on the annexation issue, which he personally supported.

The accusation that I was running my own agenda with Netanyahu [applying Israeli] sovereignty [to parts of the West Bank] And not letting the president know, not letting anyone know, contrary to Jared’s wishes — it’s 100% wrong, 100% wrong,” Friedman For The Times of Israel in February.

But Kushner tells a different story in “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” due out on August 23.

In it, Kushner recalls being angry at Netanyahu’s use of him Speech In January 2020, the White House unveiled Trump’s peace plan to announce that the president had become the first world leader to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over a large portion of the West Bank, and as a result Israel would move to annex all West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley.

For at least the next four years, Israel will maintain the status quo “in areas that your plan does not consider to be part of Israel in the future,” Netanyahu told the US president. “Israel will preserve the possibility of peace.” Then the prime minister added: “At the same time, Israel will apply its laws to the Jordan Valley, to all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and to other areas that your plan considers part of Israel and that the United States has agreed to recognize as part of Israel.”

“That was not what we negotiated,” Kushner wrote.

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“Under our plan, we will eventually recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the agreed areas if Israel takes steps to consolidate the Palestinian state within the territories we have designated,” he explains, insisting that US approval of Israeli annexation will take time rather than an imposed outcome.

Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with then-US President Donald Trump during an event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 28, 2020 (AP/Susan Walsh)

“I grabbed my chair so hard that my knuckles turned white, as if my fist could make Bibi stop. I asked the Israeli ambassador frankly [to the US] Ron Dermer to make sure Bibi kept his notes brief and above the politics of the day,” Kushner continues. “In terms of tone and substance, the speech was far from reality. It contained nothing merciful or conciliatory towards the Palestinians. It was essentially an election rhetoric to his local political audience, and he misinterpreted our plan.”

With Netanyahu’s speech passing 20 minutes into the reckoning, Kushner wrote of his concern that the annexation pledge would doom his efforts to drum up support for the peace plan from Arab states, three of which have sent ambassadors to the unveiling ceremony.

Unlike previous US administrations, Trump’s plan envisioned the creation of a semi-contiguous Palestinian state in about 70% of the West Bank, a few neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel – if the Palestinians recognized Israel as a Jewish state, disarming Hamas and other armed groups in Coastal sector, fulfilling other conditions.

The plan also allowed Israel to eventually annex all of its settlements, granting the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and security control over the west of the Jordan River. It prevents Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.

“I passed them through the peace proposal and gave them my word [then-US president Donald] Trump will make a dignified and balanced proposal – one that requires concessions on both sides. But that’s definitely not the deal Bibi was describing,” Kushner wrote.

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“If the launch had gone according to plan, it would have been laid [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud] Abbas is in an impossible situation. Responding harshly to a credible suggestion would only increase his alienation while exposing the hollowness of his position. But the Israeli prime minister has given Abbas exactly the kind of openness he needs to reject our plan.”

As he and the president walked back to the Oval Office after the ceremony, Trump told him, in apparent disappointment, “Bibi gave a campaign speech. I feel dirty,” according to Kushner’s memoir.

A close-up of the Trump administration’s ‘conceptual vision for peace’ map, published on January 28, 2020.

As it turned out, Ambassador David Friedman assured Bibi that he would persuade the White House to support annexation immediately. Kushner wrote that he did not communicate this to me or anyone on my team.

Friedman went even further after the ceremony, telling reporters that Israel “doesn’t have to wait at all” about annexation and that the only limiting factor is “the time they take to get internal approvals.”

Kushner wrote that he then confronted Friedman, who insisted that he accurately represented Trump’s proposal. “Our conversation intensified, and I pulled the plan out of the folder on my desk.”

“Where is it written here?” I asked. Don’t say that here. You are one of the best lawyers in the world. You know that’s not what we agreed on.”

Kushner wrote that Friedman responded by suggesting he and Kushner “stay vague and let Bibi say whatever he wants,” so they can see how it goes.

Kushner was unimpressed, and Friedman reportedly was ignoring the broader implications of Netanyahu’s allegations.

“You haven’t spoken to a single person from a country outside of Israel,” she replied. You don’t have to deal with the British, you don’t have to deal with the Moroccans, you don’t have to deal with the Saudis or the Emiratis, who all trust my words and make statements. I have to deal with the repercussions of this. You don’t,” he writes.

Then-US President Donald Trump arrives to shake hands with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas before a meeting at the Palace Hotel during the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2017, in New York. (Photo by AFP/Brendan Smialofsky)

Kushner wrote that Friedman began to realize the damage caused by Netanyahu’s speech and indicated a willingness to back down, adding that he had ordered the envoy to go to meet the Israeli prime minister and tell him that the United States would not support his plan for immediate annexation of the West Bank.

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Kushner said he told Friedman, “Tell him…if we’re lucky, this hasn’t completely killed my credibility with other countries, and I’ll still be able to get the backing statements I made.”

“To his credit, Friedman cleared up misunderstandings with the Israelis and the media.”

“Jared has different memories of those hectic days,” Friedman told The Times of Israel on Sunday. But we agree that we have settled our differences in a way that best serves the relationship between the United States and Israel. I stand by my recollection of events as set forth in my diary, The Hammer.

The former ambassador also referred to Trump’s own remarks at the unveiling ceremony, in which he said the United States “will form a joint committee with Israel to transform [peace plan’s] The concept map is in a more detailed view and calibrated so that it can be recognized [of Israeli sovereignty] It can be achieved immediately.”

The fallout from the unveiling ceremony worsened the administration’s relations with the Netanyahu government, Kushner wrote, as Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, stormed Kushner’s office to express his frustration.

Then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (second from right) meets in his Jerusalem office with Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer (right); White House Adviser Jared Kushner (C); US Ambassador David Friedman (second from left); and Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, July 31, 2019 (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

Kushner didn’t take well with Dermer’s behavior and replied, “Don’t take us for granted…We’ve been evaluating for three years to get to this point. And for the first time Israel has a high moral standing….But now it’s all tight. You guys think you’ve been Very touching with this administration. I hate to break reality to you, but we didn’t do any of those things because you convinced us to. We did it because we thought they were the right things to do.”

“Dermer saw that he had gone too far. He apologized and left shortly after, realizing that it was up to them to clean up the political mess that Bibi had created,” Kushner wrote.

Netanyahu eventually agreed to put his annexation plans on hold later that year in exchange for normalization of relations with the United Arab Emirates — an agreement brokered by Kushner and the Trump administration.

Netanyahu’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations in Kushner’s book.