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"Axios on HBO" asked Jared Kushner, who hasn't had official talks with the Palestinian leadership in more than a year, whether he understands why the Palestinians don't trust him. (Since taking office, President Trump has moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, slashed all U.S. aid to the Palestinians and shuttered the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.)

Kushner replied: "I'm not here to be trusted" and that he thinks the Palestinian people — if not their leaders — will not "judge anything based on trusting me," but instead will judge the Trump peace plan "based on the facts and then make a determination: Do they think this will allow them to have a pathway to a better life or not?"

Why it matters: Kushner's critics say he has been dismissive of the Palestinians' political aspirations — to have their own state with a capital in East Jerusalem — and that he's instead trying to buy them off with the promise of tens of billions of dollars of new investment in the Palestinian territories.

  • Kushner responded by arguing that the Palestinian people want different things than the Palestinian leaders.
  • When I asked Kushner whether the Palestinians deserve their own independent sovereign state with the capital in East Jerusalem, he replied: "There's a difference between the technocrats and ... the people." While "the technocrats are focused on very technocratic things" (translation: Palestinian statehood), "when I speak to Palestinian people, what they want is they want the opportunity to live a better life. They want the opportunity to pay their mortgage."
  • Asked how he knows what the Palestinian people want given he's "not exactly walking on the streets of Ramallah every day," Kushner implied he's having lots of private conversations with regular Palestinians that people don't know about.
  • Watch the clip.

Behind the scenes: Given his commitment to secrecy, interviewing Kushner is a challenge. When I pressed him on what to expect next on the two big signature policies he's leading — the Middle East peace plan and the White House's immigration proposal — he was determined to say nothing newsworthy.

The more illuminating parts of the interview were when I asked him to set aside the details of his policy plans, which he refuses to disclose, and instead explain what he believes.

  • Does he think the Palestinian people are capable of governing themselves without Israeli military and governmental interference? Does he think the Palestinian people deserve their own state with a capital in East Jerusalem? How does he reconcile his family history as refugees with the Trump administration slashing refugee numbers — his answers were more revealing than anything he said when I pressed him for fresh details about the policies he's working on.

Go deeper

In cyber espionage, U.S. is both hunted and hunter

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

American outrage over foreign cyber espionage, like Russia's SolarWinds hack, obscures the uncomfortable reality that the U.S. secretly does just the same thing to other countries.

Why it matters: Secrecy is often necessary in cyber spying to protect sources and methods, preserve strategic edges that may stem from purloined information, and prevent diplomatic incidents.

51 mins ago - Politics & Policy
Scoop

White House plots "full-court press" for $1.9 trillion relief plan

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The Biden White House is deploying top officials to get a wide ideological spectrum of lawmakers, governors and mayors on board with the president’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief proposal, according to people familiar with the matter.

Why it matters: The broad, choreographed effort shows just how crucially Biden views the stimulus to the nation's recovery and his own political success.

52 mins ago - World

Scoop: Sudan wants to seal Israel normalization deal at White House

Burhan. Photo: Mazen Mahdi/AFP via Getty

Three months after Sudan agreed to normalize relations with Israel, it still hasn't signed an agreement to formally do so. Israeli officials tell me one reason has now emerged: Sudan wants to sign the deal at the White House.

Driving the news: Israel sent Sudan a draft agreement for establishing diplomatic relations several weeks ago, but the Sudanese didn’t reply, the officials say. On Tuesday, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Eli Cohen raised that issue in Khartoum during the first-ever visit of an Israeli minister to Sudan.