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Jared Kushner at the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem, 2018. Photo: Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

MANAMA, Bahrain Jared Kushner used the opening speech of the Bahrain conference on President Trump's Middle East peace plan to speak directly to the Palestinian public.

Why it matters: Trump is deeply distrusted by Palestinian leaders, who are boycotting the conference. The White House "peace team," which Kushner leads, is attempting to go over their heads and convince the Palestinian people the plan includes major economic opportunities.

"My message to the Palestinians is: Don't believe what people tell you. President Trump and the U.S. haven't given up on you."
— Kushner

The big picture: The aim of the conference, which continues Wednesday, is to bring together key regional and global players to discuss the economic portion of Trump's plan. Expectations of a breakthrough are low, though, with neither Israeli nor Palestinian leaders in attendance and the political elements of the plan on hold.

Kushner said in his speech that the Palestinian leadership is stuck on old paradigms, and there is a need for new thinking.

  • Kushner added that the Palestinian economy has suffered from ongoing crises and the failure to reach a political solution to the conflict with Israel. "But today is not about the political solution. Today it's about economy," he said.

His bottom line: Kushner added that many people refer sarcastically to the "deal of the century," a phrase Trump used to describe his goal. He stressed: "I would call it the opportunity of the century. And I hope the Palestinians use this opportunity."

Go deeper: Highlights from Kushner's Axios interview

Go deeper

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

John Weaver, Lincoln Project co-founder, acknowledges “inappropriate” messages

John Weaver aboard John McCain's campaign plane in February 2000. Photo: Robert Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

John Weaver, a veteran Republican operative who co-founded the Lincoln Project, declared in a statement to Axios on Friday that he sent “inappropriate,” sexually charged messages to multiple men.

  • “To the men I made uncomfortable through my messages that I viewed as consensual mutual conversations at the time: I am truly sorry. They were inappropriate and it was because of my failings that this discomfort was brought on you,” Weaver said.
  • “The truth is that I'm gay,” he added. “And that I have a wife and two kids who I love. My inability to reconcile those two truths has led to this agonizing place.”