Jared Kushner ‘disappointed’ in Biden administration’s failure to expand Abraham Accords

Donald Trump's former adviser rejects idea of viewing Middle East through sectarian lens

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Former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner lamented on Monday the failure of US President Joe Biden's administration to expand agreements between Arab countries and Israel under the Abraham Accords, which Donald Trump brokered in 2020.

At an event in Washington on the second anniversary of the accords, Mr Kushner said: “The biggest disappointment so far is that more countries haven't been brought into it … we had about six active discussions that we had going on, I think that there's a lot more to build on."

The accords normalised relations between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan.

“I do hope that the current administration will focus on that and then work to do that,” Mr Kushner, who is also Mr Trump's son-in-law, said.

“Because once the whole Arab-Israeli conflict is over, I think that you will have an era of prosperity and peacefulness in that region that will endure for a very, very long time.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly voiced its intention to expand the number of countries in the accords but no formal agreements have been reached.

Mr Kushner attributed the success of the accords to the Trump team’s ability to inject unconventional thinking into resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He also rejected the idea of viewing the Middle East through a sectarian Sunni-Shiite lens.

“We created a set of situations where we were putting the different leaders in a prism when we came into the job. Everyone said the Middle East is really about Sunni-Shia divides,” Mr Kushner said.

But he argued that the fundamental divide in the region was between leaders “who want to give their people better lives and give their people opportunity and then leaders who are trying to justify their existence based on some religious perversion or some, you know, scapegoating of somebody else”.

The former White House adviser defended Mr Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and to withdraw from the nuclear deal with Iran, saying the conventional thinking that disaster would inevitably follow these decisions proved to be incorrect.

“The next morning [after moving embassy], the sun rose, and the same thing happened again with pulling out of the Iran deal, and people said, ‘If you do this, it's going to lead to World War Three, it's going to be disaster’,” he said.

He also said that pulling out of the deal in 2018 blocked funding to Iran that would have otherwise reached its proxies in the region such as Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.

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Updated: September 13, 2022, 12:54 PM