Melanie McDonagh

Jared Kushner’s Israel connection will delight Benjamin Netanyahu

Jared Kushner's Israel connection will delight Benjamin Netanyahu
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Why, do you suppose, are people getting worked up about the nepotism angle of Donald Trump appointing his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as a senior policy adviser, with particular responsibility for the Middle East, when there’s so much else to worry about it? The one thing that should concern us is that it means that a friend of Benjamin Netanyahu, perhaps the most destabilising figures in Israeli politics, is now effectively in charge of policy in respect of the Israel–Palestine question. That’s right; Kushner is the young man who introduced Netanyahu to Trump. He was also presumably behind Trump’s incandescent response to the US abstention on the UN Security Council vote on illegal Israeli settlements – a gesture by the outgoing president so belated as to be downright offensive. And no doubt he was behind the inflammatory Trump promise to shift the US embassy to Jerusalem. That’ll help, won’t it?

There are aspects of the Trump presidency that don’t worry me; I am rather encouraged by his willingness to have a pragmatic relationship with Russia, for instance. But the prospect of Bibi running US policy in respect of the Palestinian question through this polite young man – that really is scary. Which isn’t to say Kushner is an expert; his parents are very much involved with Israel but he seems to be unfamiliar with most of the leading figures in the region. He’s an Orthodox Jew with reflexive loyalty to the Jewish state but no one has yet claimed that he knows a single Palestinian.  So when Trump observed of his son-in-law, ‘I mean, he knows it so well. He knows the region, knows the people, knows the players,' he probably just means he knows more than he himself does.

Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the US, has observed, ‘There’s no question that [Jared] feels a strong commitment to Israel’s security and Israel’s future’. You know what that means; there is now no realistic possibility of the US acting to curb illegal settlements on Palestinian land, let alone any prospect of the US promoting a two-state solution to end the present impasse. The only consolation is that this isn’t much different to what happened under Barack Obama. And no one nurses any illusions that Hillary Clinton would have been much better, do they?