Kushner resurfaces with op-ed on the Middle East

Top Trump adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner resurfaced on Sunday by penning a Wall Street Journal op-ed about the Middle East, his first public remarks since the end of the Trump administration and offering a potential indication into how he will seek to cement his own legacy and accomplishments.

In the op-ed, Kushner touts the Abraham Accords and calls on President Joe Biden to “build on the progress in the Middle East,” mostly praising his father in law’s policy but also offering some encouragement to Biden.

Kushner, one of the most omnipresent officials in the Trump administration who was tasked with far-reaching responsibilities from Middle East peace to criminal justice reform, has maintained a low profile since leaving the White House, moving from Washington to Miami with wife Ivanka Trump on January 20.

Earlier this month, CNN reported that while former President Donald Trump is plotting his return to politics from Mar-a-Lago, Kushner has tapped out, several people who worked closely with him at the White House or are familiar with his thinking told CNN on background in order to maintain relationships.

“Right now, he’s just checked out of politics,” one person told CNN, with several people telling CNN that Kushner is truly — this time — effectively done with Trump’s rhetoric. Another person familiar with Kushner’s new chapter said he wants closure and a fresh start, one that doesn’t include advising his father-in-law on a daily basis. But two other people who spoke with CNN indicated that Trump has been telling those in his inner circle he is angry with Kushner.

Kushner was a key negotiator in the Abraham Accords, a historic US-brokered peace treaty between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain, signed in September 2020 at the White House, with Morocco and Sudan later joining the agreement. The deal secured the establishment of political and economic ties for the first time in both countries’ histories.

In Sunday’s op-ed, Kushner praised the Biden administration’s openness to diplomacy with Iran, which last month rejected an offer by the European Union to partake in nuclear talks with the US and the other signatories of the nuclear deal. Biden has said the US will not lift sanctions to get Iran back to the negotiating table, suggesting the measure would only happen if Tehran stops enriching uranium.

“The Biden administration, however, has one asset that the Trump administration never had—a relationship with Iran. While many were troubled by the Biden team’s opening offer to work with Europe and rejoin the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, I saw it as a smart diplomatic move,” Kushner wrote.

He continued, “The Biden administration called Iran’s bluff. It revealed to the Europeans that the JCPOA is dead and only a new framework can bring stability for the future. When Iran asked for a reward merely for initiating negotiations, President Biden did the right thing and refused.”

For his part, Secretary of State Tony Blinken has praised some of Trump’s efforts as it relates to peace in the Middle East, saying last week that “the initiatives that led to steps by countries to normalize relations with Israel were a very good thing and something we want to build on.”

Kushner also described the Arab-Israeli conflict as “nothing more than a real-estate dispute between Israelis and Palestinians that need not hold up Israel’s relations with the broader Arab world.”

“The table is set. If it is smart, the Biden administration will seize this historic opportunity to unleash the Middle East’s potential, keep America safe, and help the region turn the page on a generation of conflict and instability,” he wrote.

The op-ed also comes as Reuters reports Kushner is planning to write a book about his time in the White House, with a focus on the Middle East, among other topics.

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