“On the team you have you, an entrepreneur, a real estate lawyer, a bankruptcy lawyer, there is no Middle East Macher (Expert) in this group, “I mean, how do you operate with people who basically — you know, with all due respect, are a bunch of orthodox Jews who have no idea about anything?” he wondered. “What are you guys doing? Seriously, I don’t understand this.”
“I’ll definitely say it’s not a conventional team,” Kushner acknowledged about the unusual composition of the team. His past was in real estate and Jason Greenblatt, the top negotiator, and David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, are formerly lawyers for Trump. The only member with deep experience in the region is Dina Powell, a member of the national security council, whom he credited with working out a long-term plan.
“Her family is Egyptian, she speaks Arabic, she’s been very instrumental in helping us develop a regional aspirational economic plan for what could happen post-peace,” Kushner said.
“We don’t view a peace agreement just as signing a piece of paper and then hoping everything works out, we’re focused on what happens after,” Kushner said. “How do you create an environment where ten years down the road the people who are the beneficiaries of peace, have jobs and opportunity that they didn’t have before.”
The Saban Forum, funded by Israeli-American entertainment mogul Haim Saban, who interviewed Kushner, is organized by the Brookings Institution, a liberal-leaning think tank, and brings together policymakers of the U.S., Israeli and Middle Eastern foreign policy establishments, some of whom have been plying their trade for decades.