Edited by: TJVNews.com
In an effort to launch an initiative to advance the progress of the historic Abraham Accords that saw the normalization of relations of a number of Arab countries with Israel last year, it has been reported that former senior advisor to President Donald Trump, Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka were in Jerusalem on Monday to do just that.
Jared Kushner was a major architect of the deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.
According to a report in the South China Morning Post, at the launch of the Abraham Accords Caucus in Israel’s Knesset building, Kushner said the agreements created a “new paradigm” in the region, which could have “very different outcomes” depending on the actions of current leaders.
The accords broke with decades of Arab consensus that there would be no relations with Israel while the Palestinian question remains unresolved, according to the SCMP report.
Trump considered the accords a major foreign policy legacy. They were signed by former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was cheered at Monday’s event and who maintains an alliance with Jared Kushner, his wife Ivanka and the Trump team in Israel, including former US Ambassador David Friedman.
Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, Netanyahu’s staunch political rival, said at the launch that he would work to “expand the circle of the Abraham Accords” during his visit to Washington.
In his remarks before the panel on Monday, Lapid thanked former President Trump and former Prime Minister Netanyahu for their roles in developing the accords.
‘I want to thank President Trump for his role in the agreements and thank opposition leader Netanyahu, who did a great thing with these agreements,’ Lapid said.
‘We renewed relations with Egypt, we opened embassies, we improved our relations with the US,’ Lapid said. ‘I call upon the Palestinians, and every Arab nation that is listening: We seek peace.’
‘Peace is not a compromise or a weakness,’ he added, ‘but rather an embodiment of the human spirit. Those living in the Middle East are welcome to look around and see which countries are in a better position — those who seek peace, or those who seek war.’
‘One of the subjects in my trip to Washington tonight is expanding the number of nations that are in this agreement,’ Lapid said before the Knesset.
Lapid landed in Washington on Tuesday for a three-day visit to meet with senior Biden administration officials, Jewish leaders, and the UAE foreign minister, as was reported in the Times of Israel.
Highlights of the trip include a meeting Tuesday with Vice President Kamala Harris and a trilateral meeting Wednesday with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.
Israeli media have reported on some frustration among Israeli officials about a lack of momentum from President Joe Biden’s administration to expand the accords engineered under Trump, according to the SCMP report.
Biden’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken promised last month to encourage more Arab countries to recognize Israel to “keep normalization marching forward” but nothing substantial in that regard has occurred.
Several former top Trump administration officials were also in Jerusalem on Monday, coinciding with the launch.
Having participated in the first meeting of the Caucus for Promoting the Abraham Accords, former Prime Minister Netanyahu tweeted: “We are very pleased to meet with our close friends Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. Welcome to Jerusalem!” He included an image of himself, his wife Sara with Jared and Ivanka.
Thanking Kushner for his ‘tremendous’ efforts to establish the Abraham Accords was Knesset Speaker Mickey Levy. The Daily Mail of the UK reported that Levy called on other Middle Eastern nations to ‘abandon the way of hate and follow the Abraham Accords towards normalization and peace with the State of Israel.’
Kushner expressed his thanks and deep appreciation to the people involved in promoting the normalization accords. The Daily Mail reported that he said ‘the Middle East in changing,’ and also said that focus on cooperation and economic growth would make ‘our dream of peace come true.’
One of Donald Trump’s biggest accomplishments as president, he and other Republicans have stated, is achieving peace in the Middle East through brokering a deal with Israel, the U.S. and the United Arab Emirates, as was reported by the Daily Mail.
Trump also moved recognition of the capital of Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, also moving the U.S. embassy to the holy city.
The Daily Mail of the UK reported that Ruth Wasserman Lande, a leader of the Kachol Lavan party in the Knesset, released a statement claiming that she and Ofir Akunis, a leader of the Likud party will work toward strengthening economic and tourism ties with other countries who are part of the accords. She also sent a strong message in her statement that the Knesset group will work to ‘formulate future agreements with other countries.’
Almost a year into the Abraham Accords, dozens of companies, foundations and government offices from Israel and the United Arab Emirates have established ties, reached agreements and inked deals in an array of fields, as was reported by Israel 21C.
In April of this year, a plethora of Israeli top brass – a former Mossad chief, retired army generals and leading CEOS – were invited to speak at the Cybertech Global conference in Dubai. The conference covered trends, challenges and solutions in the world of cyber, and the Israeli participants’ attendance highlighted the deepening ties between the two countries, according to the Israel 21C report.
In a first agreement of its kind, Israel’s ZAKA Search and Rescue organization and organizers of the Dubai International Humanitarian Aid & Development Conference & Exhibition (DIHAD) signed an Memo of Understanding that supports future collaborations in response to international crises and disasters, to be distributed regardless of color, race, gender, religion or political opinions.
Subsequent to the Monday Knesset meeting, Kushner and his wife Ivanka attended a star-studded event in Jerusalem which marked the launch of the “Friedman Center for Peace through Strength’ at the Museum of Tolerance.
Attendees included former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, former Mossad Director Yossi Cohen, FIFA President Gianni Infantino and former American football quarterback Peyton Manning. The event was co-chaired by Larry Mizel, chairman of the Museum of Tolerance, and philanthropist Sylvan Adams, according to a report on the JNS web site.
“We are on the cusp of ending the Israeli-Arab conflict and changing the region for the next 100 years,” Friedman told the assembled crowd, according to the JNS report. The Accords, he said, demonstrated that Israel could be a trusted partner within the Islamic world. He noted that while many unfairly blame Israel for all the problems of the Middle East, “Israel should be the solution. Not the problem.”
The Accords, he continued, are “poised for extraordinary growth,” with regard to both those countries who have already joined them and those that will do so in the future.
“I think as more countries see the opportunity and the growth and the benefits that are gained by the Gulf nations and Morocco and Sudan … I think more people are going to want to join,” he said, as was reported by JNS.
Alluding to the current U.S. administration’s plan to reopen a shuttered consulate in Jerusalem to serve the Palestinian Authority, Friedman insisted that Jerusalem must “remain an undivided city,” according to the JNS report.
Reopening the consulate, he said, “is exactly the wrong thing to do for so many different reasons. From a diplomatic perspective, it will add nothing. From a legal perspective, I don’t think it works. From a practical perspective, I just think it sends the wrong message.”
JNS reported that regarding the role of the Abraham Accords in helping to solve the protracted Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Friedman said, “It’s less about peace being made from the outside in or the inside out. I think the Abraham Accords demonstrates is that Israel can be a trusted partner within the Muslim world, and creates massive opportunity for the Palestinian people.”
When they see what has been accomplished, said Friedman, the “Palestinian people will hopefully recognize that a much better life awaits for them, awaits them being aligned with Israel and working cooperatively with Israel, rather than being in a state of conflict,” as was reported by JNS.
According to Friedman, it is imperative to maintain the momentum of the Abraham Accords, despite the fact that since they were signed new administrations have come to power in both Washington and Jerusalem.
Moreover, Friedman presented former Secretary of State Pompeo with the inaugural Peace through Strength Award.
The JNS report indicated that in accepting the award, Pompeo explained how the Trump administration came to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and change longstanding American policy by declaring that Israeli settlements are not inherently illegal.
“Israel is not an occupying nation,” Pompeo stated.
The former secretary explained that the concept of peace through strength promoted by the Friedman Center “is not particularly original” and has long been the doctrine of American leaders.
“The central thesis of our administration was to ensure that America was strong in every facet, to help bring peace not just to our country, but to the entire world,” said Pompeo. Moral clarity, he said, is an essential component of strong leadership, adding, “Clarity matters. Peace follows from strength, truth and clarity.” Referring to Israel, Pompeo said, “One needs to be unambiguous about who the good guys are.”
The event also featured the premiere of an upcoming 5-hour Trinity Broadcasting Network documentary series, aptly named “The Abraham Accords,” co-produced by former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as was reported by JNS.
“This is a narrated documentary that’s presented through the voices of everybody who participated,” Friedman told JNS. “So you’ll watch this movie and you’ll hear from President [Donald] Trump, Vice President [Mike] Pence, Secretary Pompeo, Secretary Mnuchin, Jared Kushner, [senior adviser to Kushner] Avi Berkowitz, [UAE Ambassador to the U.S.] Yousef Al Otaiba, the foreign minister of Bahrain, the former foreign minister of the UAE and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer.”
“The film, to me, is incredible,” he added. “I think it really helps people to get their arms around the Abraham Accords; what it means, how it got there. To identify, sort of, with the players and the goals, and to really kind of feel a part of it. I think it’ll inspire people to keep working on it. I think it’s a good legacy for all those who worked on it. It’s moving. I think people will be moved by it.”
(Sources; South China Morning Post, the Daily Mail of the UK, the Times of Israel and Alex Traiman at the Jewish News Syndicate)