White House senior adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump is fond of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and willing to engage with him, but Abbas was cool to the gesture.
In a conference call with reporters, Kushner said, “Our door is always open” to the Palestinians.
The Palestinians have refused to talk to Kushner and other architects of a U.S. peace initiative unveiled at a Bahrain workshop last week. Kushner at the Manama conference outlined a $50 billion economic revival plan for the Palestinian territories, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon that is dependent on Israel and the Palestinians reaching a political settlement to their decades-old conflict.
Trump’s proposals to settling the thorny political issues remain secret and are to be released later this year. There are doubts among Palestinians as to whether his plan will include the long-standing goal of a “two-state solution” – Israel and Palestine existing side by side in peace.
“President Trump is very fond of President Abbas,” Kushner, who is Trump’s son-in-law, said. “He likes him very much personally. And at the right time if they’re willing to engage I believe that they’ll find that they’ll have an opportunity. Whether they will be willing to take that opportunity will be up to them.”
Abbas, asked about Kushner’s remarks in Ramallah, said he would resume dialogue with the United States should the latter assert its recognition of the two-state solution and the right of Palestinian refugees to return.
“You want a dialogue? If yes, then you need to recognize the two-state solution and that east Jerusalem is occupied and that the international legitimacy is the ground for any dialogue,” Abbas said during an event at his Ramallah office in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
“Send me those words on a piece of paper and the next day I will show up at the White House. Otherwise, no,” he said. “Therefore, we are not closing doors with the United States, we are keeping the door narrowly open. If they like it, they are welcome,” he added.
In comments likely to raise concerns among Palestinians, Kushner hinted that his peace plan might call on Palestinian refugees to settle where they are and not return to lands now in Israel.