Kushner talks Middle East peace Sunday, not special counsel investigation
President Donald Trump is considering recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, officials say, a highly charged declaration that risks inflaming tensions across the Middle East.
WASHINGTON – President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said Sunday that Trump has not yet decided whether to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a move that could inflame tensions in the region.
Kushner appeared Sunday at the Saban Forum, an annual meeting of American and Israeli leaders organized by the Brookings Institution. Kushner addressed Middle East peace negotiations in general terms and said progress had been made.
Kushner did not talk about the investigation into Russian influence in the presidential campaign. Kushner has been interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigators. And Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, pleaded guilty last week to lying to the FBI. Kushner deflected speculation surrounding him.
“I don’t let it bother me,” Kushner said.
Kushner also declined to say if Trump had made a decision on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, something no U.S. president has done before.
“The president is going to make his decision,” Kushner said. “He’s still looking at a lot of different facts.”
Trump is expected to make his announcement Wednesday. Previous presidents have insisted that Jerusalem’s status be decided by negotiation between Arabs and Israelis.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas warned Sunday that U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would jeopardize the Mideast peace efforts.
“Any American step related to the recognition of Jerusalem as capital of Israel, or moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, represents a threat to the future of the peace process and is unacceptable for the Palestinians, Arabs and internationally,” Abbas told a group of visiting Arab lawmakers from Israel, according to the official Wafa news agency.
Israel’s prime minister’s office, Supreme Court and parliament are located in the holy city. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as their capital.
Despite concerns that recognition will inflame tensions in region, Kushner insisted that Trump enjoys a good reputation among Arabs and Israelis.
“Both sides really trust the president,” Kushner said.