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Jared Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Amos Ben Gershom/GPO via Getty Images

Jared Kushner — architect of the White House's Middle East plan, part of which is due for release at the end of June — casts doubt on the ability of Palestinians to govern themselves.

Driving the news: Asked in an interview on "Axios on HBO" whether he believes the Palestinians are capable of governing themselves without Israeli interference — a fundamental demand for Palestinians — Kushner said, "That's a very good question. ... The hope is, is that over time, they can become capable of governing."

  • Kushner said the Palestinians "need to have a fair judicial system ... freedom of press, freedom of expression, tolerance for all religions" before the Palestinian territories can become "investable."
  • Asked whether the Palestinians could expect freedom from any Israeli governmental or military interference, Kushner said, "I think that it's a high bar. ... If you don't have a proper government structure and proper security when people are living in fear of terror, that hurts Palestinians."
  • Between the lines: Axios contributor Barak Ravid writes: "When he says 'it's a high bar' — I think that partially what he means is that even if there is a Palestinian state, the Israeli army would still have some responsibility for security."

Why it matters: Kushner, who represents a president whose actions have so far been all-in for Israel, in the interview seems to want to drive a wedge between the Palestinian people and their leadership and in so doing may make the sales pitch for his future plan even harder.

  • The Palestinian leaders have already announced they're boycotting the Trump administration's economic summit later this month in Bahrain, even as other Arab countries who support the Palestinians have said they'll attend.

Yes, but: Kushner also said in the interview that he believes the Palestinians "should have self-determination." Barak told me he takes this as a signal that the White House plans to propose a two-state solution. Barak said it's the first time Kushner has said so this clearly.

  • However, the phrase "self-determination" is slippery. Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro told me that while "self-determination" usually connotes statehood, it could also mean "a level of limited autonomy that is little more than the Palestinians have right now — disconnected islands surrounded by overall Israeli control (and annexed settlements)."
  • "There aren't going to be any Palestinians who will endorse that definition of self-determination, and few others who matter elsewhere" would do so either, Shapiro said.

Context: I interviewed Kushner before his trip to Jerusalem ahead of the formation of a new Netanyahu government. But he arrived in Israel to discover that Netanyahu couldn't form a coalition and to news that Israel will have another election. This will further complicate the rollout of Kushner's peace plan.

Go deeper ... Kushner: "I'm not here to be trusted by Palestinian leaders"

Go deeper

Updated 31 mins ago - World

Biden cleans up comments about Russia invading Ukraine

Photo: Doug Mills-Pool/Getty Images

President Biden sought to clarify his suggestion that a "minor incursion" by Russia into Ukraine may not draw the same response as a large invasion, telling reporters Thursday that "Russia will pay a heavy price" if any troops cross the border.

Why it matters: Some officials in Kyiv saw Biden's comments as inviting Russian aggression.

Tina Reed, author of Vitals
44 mins ago - Health

Study finds bias against Black patients written into medical charts

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Black patients were more than two-and-a-half times as likely as white patients to have negative descriptors about them in their electronic health record, according to a study published Wednesday in Health Affairs.

Why it matters: The study is further evidence of bias in the U.S. health care system, which can ultimately result in worse care and disparately poor outcomes.

Jan. 6 panel asks Ivanka Trump to cooperate with investigation

Former President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot sent a letter Thursday to Ivanka Trump requesting her cooperation with the investigation.

Driving the news: "We write to request your voluntary cooperation with our investigation on a range of critical topics," the chair wrote in a letter to the former president's daughter.