Dec 3, 2017

What to make of Kushner's remarks on Middle East peace

Photo: Jose Luis Magana / AP

President Trump's son in law and senior adviser Jared Kushner was the administration's key note speaker today at the Saban Forum in Washington. It was the first time Kushner spoke publicly about the administration's efforts to promote "the ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians.

Kushner was very careful in his remarks, but these three points are worth noting:

  1. In order to create more stability in the Middle East we have to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
  2. We need to overcome the Israeli-Palestinian issue in order to improve relations between Israel and the rest of the Arab world.
  3. Many of the day-to-day crises between Israel and the Palestinians are caused by the fact there is no final status agreement, and that's why we need to solve the big issues (i.e. borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem etc.)

The big picture: Kushner's comments showed the Trump "peace team" is drafting a comprehensive deal aiming at a final status agreement that solves all core issues – and not a plan that aims at partial or interim agreements. Kushner's comments also showed that the Trump administration see the "ultimate deal" between Israel and the Palestinians as a centerpiece of its Middle East policy and a key to promoting other policies in the region – mainly an alliance between Israel and the Gulf states against Iran.

Netanyahu wouldn't necessary like this: Kushner wasn't critical either of Israel or the Palestinians, but some of the points he made are contrary to Netanyahu's positions. Netanyahu stressed time and time again that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't the cause for other problems in the Middle East and that solving it, as important as it might be, will not solve issues like ISIS or the Sunni-Shia confrontation. Netanyahu also said time and time again in the last year that he thinks Israel's relations with the Gulf states can get warmer regardless of whether there is progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Go deeper

Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

Bernie Sanders rallies in Las Vegas, Nevada on Feb. 21. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Center-left think tank Third Way urgently called on the Democratic front-runners of the 2020 presidential election to challenge Sen. Bernie Sanders on the South Carolina debate stage on Feb. 25, in a memo provided to Axios' Mike Allen on Saturday.

What they're saying: "At the Las Vegas debate ... you declined to really challenge Senator Sanders. If you repeat this strategy at the South Carolina debate this week, you could hand the nomination to Sanders, likely dooming the Democratic Party — and the nation — to Trump and sweeping down-ballot Republican victories in November."

Situational awareness

Warren Buffett. Photo: Daniel Zuchnik/WireImage

Catch up on today's biggest news:

  1. Warren Buffett releases annual letter, reassures investors about future of Berkshire Hathaway
  2. Greyhound bars immigration sweeps
  3. U.S. military officially stops offensive operations in Afghanistan
  4. America's future looks a lot like Nevada
  5. Centrist Democrats beseech 2020 candidates: "Stand up to Bernie" or Trump wins

America's future looks a lot like Nevada

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Today's Nevada caucus will foreshadow the future of American politics well beyond 2020.

Why it matters: The U.S. is in the midst of a demographic transformation, and the country's future looks a lot like Nevada's present. Today's results, in addition to shaping the 2020 race, will help tell us where politics is headed in a rapidly changing country.