Jared Kushner and Avi Berkowitz nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for Israel accords

Move recognises their role in negotiating the normalisation of relations between four Arab nations and Israel

FILE PHOTO: White House adviser Jared Kushner, flanked by aide Avi Berkowitz (L) and Brian Hook, former U.S. envoy to Iran, during a press briefing on the agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates at White House in Washington, U.S., August 13, 2020.  REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in negotiating the Abraham Accords.

The accords were announced between mid-August and mid-December last year and were the most significant diplomatic breakthroughs in the Middle East in 25 years.

Nominating the pair was American lawyer Alan Dershowitz, who was eligible to do so in his capacity as a professor emeritus of Harvard Law School.

In his letter to the Nobel committee, Mr Dershowitz cited the work of former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer in the accords. He seemed to suggest his nomination could be controversial.

"The Nobel Peace Prize is not for popularity. Nor is it an assessment of what the international community may think of those who helped bring about peace. It is an award for fulfilling the daunting criteria set out by Alfred Nobel in his will," Mr Dershowitz wrote.

Mr Kushner, who is former US president Donald Trump's son-in-law, and Mr Berkowitz, who was his Middle East envoy, were central figures in negotiating the accords that normalised relations between the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, and Israel.

Mr Kushner said he was honoured to be nominated for the prize, which will be awarded in October.

Mr Kushner and Mr Berkowitz are not the first to be nominated for the Abraham Accords.

Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were nominated by past winner Lord David Trimble, former first minister of Northern Ireland.

Mr Trump left office on January 20 under a cloud of controversy, potentially affecting whether the two aides will be awarded the prize.

Mr Dershowitz defended Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial last year. In a January 20 comment in The Wall Street Journal, he said the US Senate should dismiss the new article of impeachment against Mr Trump over the January 6 storming of the Capitol because he is no longer president.

US voting rights activist and Democratic Party politician Stacey Abrams has also been nominated for this year's Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting nonviolent change through the ballot box, a Norwegian politician said on Monday.

Ms Abrams, whose work was credited with boosting voter turnout last year, helping Joe Biden win the US presidency, joins a long list of nominees.

"Abrams' work follows in Dr Martin Luther King Jr's footsteps in the fight for equality before the law and for civil rights," said Lars Haltbrekken, a Socialist Party member of Norway's Parliament.

King, a Baptist minister who became a leader of the 1960s civil rights movement, won the Nobel prize in 1964 and remains among its most famous laureates.

Other candidates this year include Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, the World Health Organisation and climate campaigner Greta Thunberg.

The US Black Lives Matter movement, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the "Pentagon Papers" about the Vietnam War, US Congresswoman Barbara Lee and WikiLeaks have also been nominated, as have pro-democracy and civil rights campaigners from Belarus to Poland and Hungary.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which decides who wins the award, does not comment on nominations, but nominators can choose to reveal their picks.

Prominent former US winners include presidents Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and former vice president Al Gore.

The 2020 winner was the World Food Programme for fighting global hunger.

The UN organisation was lauded "for its contribution to bettering conditions for peace in conflict-affected areas and for acting as a driving force in efforts to prevent the use of hunger as a weapon of war and conflict".