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Kushner opens Bahrain conference with speech aimed at Palestinians

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