Menahem Kahana | AFP | Getty Images
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L), his wife Sara Netanyahu (L), Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner (C), US President’s daughter Ivanka Trump (C-R), US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin (R) and Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin (2nd R) attend the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018.
President Donald Trump charged his son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner with trying to figure out a peace deal between Israel and Palestinians. On Monday, Kushner acted as the face of the administration at a ceremony celebrating the U.S. Embassy in Israel being moved to Jerusalem – an action that triggered more unrest in the volatile region.
Israeli forces killed dozens of Palestinian protesters along the Gaza border as Kushner and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu led an inauguration ceremony for the embassy. Later Monday, the White House denounced militant group Hamas for the violence in Gaza, saying Israel has a right to defend itself.
In his address, meanwhile, Kushner said that Jerusalem “must remain a city that brings people of all faiths together” and that the United States “recognizes the sensitivity” surrounding the city.
Yet despite his calls for peace, he also said that Palestinians “provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution” and that the “journey to peace started with a strong America recognizing the truth.”
“What a glorious day for Israel,” Netanyahu said in his speech at the ceremony. “We are in Jerusalem and we are here to stay.”
Possible peace talks are likely to become even more difficult to bring to fruition in the wake of Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the embassy there from Tel Aviv. The move sparked international outcry and infuriated Palestinians, who have been protesting near the Gaza-Israeli border since March.
Kushner has been in charge of drafting the White House’s peace plan for for months, despite having no diplomatic experience when he took on the role. The White House was putting its finishing touches on the plan in March, The New York Times reported at the time, but administration officials were trying to figure out a way to unveil it without it being greeted as dead on arrival.
While Netanyahu has happily endorsed Trump’s approach to the Middle East, namely the U.S. president’s hard-line stance on Iran, many have been skeptical of the administration’s approach.
Khaled Elgindy, a fellow with the Brooking Institute’s Center for Middle East Policy, said that the Trump administration has shown a “real fundamental lack of understanding of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.”
“It’s not really clear what they have to offer to the Palestinians that is of value,” Elgindy told CNBC.
Elgindy said that the Trump administration is “offering a combination of carrots and sticks” to the two sides, but that Israel is getting all of the carrots and Palestine is only getting sticks, especially with Jerusalem off of the table. He said the U.S. has no real answers for the conflict and instability in the region.
Peace between Israel and the Palestinians is not the White House’s first priority in the Middle East, however, according the Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani.
“We have a president who is as committed to regime change as we are.” Giuliani said confronting Iran is “more important than an Israeli-Palestinian deal,” the Washington Post reported.
On Sunday, Kushner discussed with Netanyahu if and when the United States should unveil the plan, according to Axios.
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.