Israel Palestine Conflict

Kushner says Hamas attack meant to derail Saudi, Israel peace efforts

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Former US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law said Wednesday that Hamas was trying to derail normalization efforts between Saudi Arabia and Israel when it carried out its attacks on Oct. 7.

“The progress between Saudi Arabia and Israel was progressing incredibly well, and I do think that that was a big threat to the forces of evil,” Jared Kushner said at the Future Investment Initiative being held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh.

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Kushner was referring to the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, which resulted in the deadliest attack on Israel.

However, critics say this perspective fails to take into account the original cause of conflict between Palestinians and Israelis, including the occupation of Palestinian territories, expanded Israeli settlements, and continued deprivation of the basic necessities of life for Palestinians.

Saudi Arabia has also called for an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital as part of any normalization efforts.

There have not been any talks on the issue between Saudi and US officials or Israel and US officials on the matter since the Oct. 7 attacks, according to US officials. Talks on US efforts to broker this deal have not been officially suspended, but the circumstances have not allowed them to occur since earlier this month.

The former senior advisor to Trump was one of the architects of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain.

In light of the recent violence in Gaza and Israel, he said the peace accords were more important than ever. He said the Abraham Accords were the answer to the “radicalization and to the deprivation of societies that has existed in the Middle East for way too long.”

Kushner made no mention of the civilian deaths in Gaza as a direct result of Israeli bombardment over the last two weeks, which came in response to the Hamas attack that killed over 1,000 Israelis, including soldiers, reservists and civilians.

As for a solution, Kushner said it was two-fold.

“Number one, Israel has to have the security to not be threatened by its neighbors and to be able to protect its citizens; that is absolutely non-negotiable,” he said.

The second element, he said, was that the Palestinian people had to have the opportunity to live a better life. “It’s not just saying let’s create a state. It has to be a state that can function and thrive because if you don’t create that, then the people will, again, find ways to blame other people instead of the leadership that’s putting it there.”

He added: “If we ever want to achieve a solution… we can’t do it the same way we’ve done it before.”

Washington’s longtime allies in the Middle East, including Jordan and Egypt, shunned the US president following the blast at Al Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza. Arab states have condemned and blamed Israel, while the US claimed that it had intelligence to support Israeli claims that it was due to an errant rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Qatar and other Gulf and Arab countries have all slammed Israel for its continued targeting of civilians. Reuters cited senior diplomats from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East voicing their disappointment with the US veto at the UN.

Additionally, some US diplomats and officials are frustrated with the Biden administration’s approach and see it as worsening the crisis and giving Israel the green light to further inflict heavy civilian losses on Palestinians as part of its military campaign against Hamas.

US diplomats told Al Arabiya English that Israeli lives were being considered “more important” than Arab lives when the policy decisions were being made. The US veto against the UN resolution calling for a humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza further motivated some Biden administration officials to consider quitting their roles in the government.

Read more: Bipartisan group of US senators heads to Saudi Arabia as Middle East violence expands

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