Abraham Accords prove no such thing as ‘permanent enemies,’ says former Trump adviser Kushner

Former senior Donald Trump adviser Jared Kushner speaking at the FII Priority conference in Miami. (Screenshot/FII Priority)
Former senior Donald Trump adviser Jared Kushner speaking at the FII Priority conference in Miami. (Screenshot/FII Priority)
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Updated 31 March 2023
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Abraham Accords prove no such thing as ‘permanent enemies,’ says former Trump adviser Kushner

Abraham Accords prove no such thing as ‘permanent enemies,’ says former Trump adviser Kushner
  • Historic peace deals were hugely important for Middle East stability, Jared Kushner tells FII Priority conference

MIAMI: The US-brokered Abraham Accords signed in 2020 between Israel and several Arab neighbors under then-president Donald Trump have shown that there is “no such thing as permanent enemies,” Jared Kushner said on Friday.

Speaking at the FII Priority conference in Miami, the former senior Trump adviser said the peace deals were hugely important for the stability of the Middle East.

He also said they marked a return to close ties and coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Jews in the region before the Second World War, adding: “It’s a beginning of the return to that time.”

Under the accords, Israel normalized relations with the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, and has since garnered a closer human connection between their populations, with “Arabs and Muslims now able to say nice things about Israel and Jews,” according to Kushner.

He continued: “It just shows there’s no such thing as permanent enemies, and there’s no such thing as permanent alliances, and that anything is truly possible.”

Speaking about why he made sure Trump’s first foreign visit in 2017 after he became president was to the Middle East, Kushner said it made sense considering that the fight against Daesh was a pressing issue at the time and a priority for Trump.

He also highlighted the chaos in the region at the time, citing the rise of Daesh’s caliphate, Iran’s destabilizing behavior and funding of Hamas and Hezbollah, the Syrian civil war, and crises in Libya and Yemen, saying the previous George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations had “really made a big mess” in the Middle East.

“A lot of the traditional people we were working with were saying, ‘let’s go to Canada or Mexico and kiss a baby,’ and do some, you know, worthless thing,” Kushner said.

During that visit, Trump visited Saudi Arabia, and Kushner told the conference how impressed he was with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, launched under King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.

The Saudi leadership was as keen as the US administration at the time to focus on shared ambitions and goals, rather than any differences, he said.

Kushner added he could see that the king and crown prince were fully focused on making “big transformations” in the Kingdom, but “traditionalist” policy-planning officials in the US told him the changes would not come to fruition.

“And me having no (political) experience, if somebody’s telling you they want to change, and if we agree with the change, let’s give them a shot to try to do it,” he said. “And so we worked very hard on the trip, and the deliverables from it were truly historic.”

Aside from important economic and security deals signed during the visit to Saudi Arabia, the opening of a center to combat extremism in the country was an outcome of which Kushner is particularly proud.

He highlighted the counterterror financing center, which gave access to US officials to the Middle East’s banking system and allowed the partners to “really fight money that was going to bad actors.”


Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
Updated 57 min 50 sec ago
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Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base

Hezbollah fires new rocket salvo at Israeli base
  • The rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah said it launched a salvo of rockets at an Israeli air control base on Tuesday in retaliation for deadly Israeli strikes on east Lebanon.
Hamas ally Hezbollah has exchanged near-daily fire with the Israeli army since the Gaza war erupted in October, but strikes have been largely restricted to the border area.
Hezbollah said it targeted the “Meron air control base... with a large salvo of rockets from several launchers.”
It said the rocket fire was in response to Israel’s first strikes of the war on eastern Lebanon.
Israel struck Hezbollah targets near the city of Baalbek, killing two of its fighters, security sources said. The Israeli army said it targeted Hezbollah air defenses after the group downed one of its drones.
In retaliation, Hezbollah already fired 60 rockets at an Israeli base in the annexed Golah Heights on Monday.
Cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 284 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 44 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.


Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
Updated 47 min 30 sec ago
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Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal

Israeli team in Qatar in last push for Gaza peace deal
  • Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce

JEDDAH: A high-level Israeli delegation arrived on Monday in Qatar, where political leaders of Hamas are based, as the combatants in the Gaza war closed in on a ceasefire and hostage deal that the US says is now within reach.
The presence of both sides suggested talks were further along than at any time since a big push at the start of February, when Israel rejected a Hamas proposal as “delusional.”
In public, both sides continue to blame each other. Israel says it will agree only to a temporary pause in fighting to secure the release of hostages. Hamas says it will not free them without a permanent end to the war.
After meeting Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh said the group had embraced mediators’ efforts to find an end to the war, and accused Israel of stalling while Gazans die under siege. “We will not allow the enemy to use negotiations as a cover for this crime,” he said.
Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri said any ceasefire agreement would require “securing an end to the aggression, the withdrawal of the occupation, the returning of the displaced, the entry of aid, shelter equipment, and rebuilding.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready for a deal, and it was up to Hamas to drop demands he described as “outlandish” and “from another planet.”
Israel is under pressure from the US to agree on a truce to prevent a threatened assault on Rafah in southern Gaza.


Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says
Updated 27 February 2024
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Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

Israeli forces kill three Palestinians in West Bank clashes, WAFA says

CAIRO: Three Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces in clashes in the occupied West Bank early on Tuesday, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA said.
At least 400 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers and settlers since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas gunmen.


At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
Updated 27 February 2024
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At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile

At least 10 killed after ferry sinks in Egypt’s Nile
  • Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta

CAIRO: A ferry carrying day laborers sank in the Nile just outside the Egyptian capital, killing at least 10 of the 15 people on board, authorities said Monday.
The five who survived were transported to a hospital and later discharged, the Ministry of Manpower said in a statement. The cause of the sinking was not made immediately clear.
The ministry allocated compensation of 200,000 Egyptian pounds (around $6,466) to each family of the deceased and 20,000 ($646) to each of the five injured.
The laborers were on their way to work at a local construction firm. It took rescue teams hours to recover the bodies, according to local media which aired live-stream videos on social media platforms showing divers searching for the dead as villagers waited on the Nile banks.
The incident took place in the town of Monshat el-Kanater in Giza, which is one of three provinces forming Greater Cairo.
Many Egyptians make their way using boats on a daily basis, especially in Upper Egypt and the Nile Delta. Sailing along the Nile is also a favorite pastime during holidays in the Arab world’s most populous country.
Ferry, railway and road accidents are common in Egypt mainly because of poor maintenance and the lack of regulations.
In 2022, two people died and eight went missing after a small truck they were riding in slid off a ferry and plunged into the Nile. And in 2015, 35 people died in a collision between a passenger boat and a scow on the Nile.

 


France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
Updated 27 February 2024
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France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan

France reiterates support for Morocco’s Western Sahara plan
  • The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora

RABAT: France’s Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne, during a trip to Morocco intended to warm strained relations, on Monday reiterated French support of Morocco’s autonomy plan for disputed Western Sahara.
The former Spanish colony is largely controlled by Morocco but claimed by the Algeria-backed Polisario Front, which in 2020 declared a “self-defense war” and seeks the territory’s independence.
The United Nations considers Western Sahara a “non-self-governing territory.”
“This is an existential issue for Morocco. We know it,” Sejourne said during a press conference alongside his Moroccan counterpart, Nasser Bourita.
Sejourne said Morocco can count on France’s “clear and constant support” for its autonomy plan.
Rabat advocates limited autonomy for the vast desert territory which is home to abundant phosphates and fisheries.
Sejourne told journalists he wanted to support Moroccan efforts in developing the area.
“Morocco has invested a lot in development projects for the benefit of the local population and in terms of training, renewable energies, tourism,” and the use of ocean resources, he said.
The foreign minister’s visit comes after a series of diplomatic tensions between Rabat and Paris, the former colonial power which is home to a large diaspora.
Moroccans have been particularly upset by President Emmanuel Macron’s desired rapprochement with Algeria.
Sejourne proposed on Monday a partnership with Morocco focussed over the next 30 years on renewable energies, training and industrial development.
Morocco’s Bourita said “France is a distinguished partner of Morocco on the political, economic and humanitarian levels.”
The Polisario continues to demand a UN-supervised referendum on self-determination, which was agreed in a 1991 ceasefire accord after a 15-year war between the Front and Morocco. The referendum has still not taken place.
In late 2020 then-US president Donald Trump recognized Moroccan sovereignty over Western Sahara in return for Rabat’s normalization of ties with Israel. Morocco has since then pursued an increasingly intense diplomatic effort to win over other countries.