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tv   2019 Soref Symposium dinner with Jared Kushner  CSPAN  May 2, 2019 6:57pm-7:59pm EDT

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and with iran to watch attacks into the civilian centers targeting the campaign to threaten humanitarian access. the political process that emerged and to be sure the houthis present a serious challenge. [applause] . >> thank you tonight we are joined by nearly 200 members of the board of trustees from across the united states as well as distinguished guests from across the policy community. and live around the world as is the custom i will be grateful everybody turns off the ringers on their phones feel free to tweet as much as
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you want. [laughter] the imposing them is the major annual event in washington named in memory of two outstanding patrons of the institute whose generosity was critical to survival of the institute more than three decades ago. that generosity lives on with many members of whom are with us today like all donors are proud american citizens committed to an active and engaged american role in pursuit of security and peace in the middle east. with all of our supporters i say a heartfelt thank you. [applause] in these types of partisan times i am pleased to say you
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have entered a partisan free zone. that is an oxymoron left but the washington institute is an independent nonpartisan research institution to accept support from american citizens we do not accept any money from any foreign government, entities or foreign persons that only do the trustees span the political spectrum that faculty of experts women and men that are diplomats and scholars and military leaders span the spectrum of religious ethnicity and nationalities both here and the middle east. so to provide government with information and analysis and ideas to advance the pursuit of security and peace in the
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middle east and equally important to do it on a timely basis. so the democratic and republican for more than 30 years, they have recognized the talent on our staff to be in senior positions and the tradition began with the first policy paper. [applause] [applause] . . . .
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>> took a step closer to assuming a senior position when the senate foreign relations committee voted 19-3 to recommend to the full senate the confirmation of our fellow, david shanker. [applause] to serve as assistant secretary of state for near east affairs. david, on behalf of the staff and trustees of the washington institute, please accept our warmest congratulations. [applause] we have a very full and exciting program this evening. to introduce our keynote event, i'm pleased to welcome my friend and partner, our outstanding institute president, shelley catten. [applause]
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>> thank you, jim. and thank you for your decades of leadership and dedication to the institute. i want to add my own welcome to the hundreds of trustees who are here this evening, especially members of our young leadership who have taken time from their professional and family lives to join us. your presence underscores the depths of your commitment to the institute. [applause] from our earliest days, the pursuit of peace has been central to our mission. peace between arabs and israelis is not just a noble goal, it is a worthy american interest. it is not the only interest we have in the middle east nor always the most urgent, but it helps define what we as americans stand for. and fortune more than 30
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years -- for more than 30 or years, the scholars and experts at the washington institute have offered advice and ideas to administration of both parties on how to achieve this important goal. considerable progress has been made including peace treaties between israel and arab states and incremental but important progress with the palestinians. but peace remains elusive. tonight we will have the opportunity to take a close look at the next chapter of america's effort to promote peace. we will do that with the person who president trump has entrusted to lead the american peace effort, his senior adviser, jared kushner. [applause] thank you. a graduate of harvard university with a joint law degree, mba from nyu, mr. kushner was a real estate developer before joining the 2016 election campaign that
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brought his father-in-law to the white house. as senior adviser to the president, he has a broad range of responsibilities from international trade and immigration to criminal justice reform. but tonight we will focus, of course, on the middle east, the pursuit of arab/israeli peace. and our format will be spontaneous and unscripted, a conversation between jared kushner and our executive director, rob satloff. as most of you know, rob is the washington institute. he has been our director for the past 26 years. [applause] among his many talents, rob is also a professional interviewer. for the past 14 years, he has hosted a weekly talk show on the u.s. government arabic satellite
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channel explaining to middle east viewers how washington works or doesn't work, as the case may be. [laughter] tonight we get to see those interviewing skills in action. and if you don't appreciate all the nuances of their discussion, fear not. after dinner our own peace process brain trust will be on stage to decipher precisely what we heard and what we didn't hear. and on behalf of the washington institute, i am pleased to welcome mr. jared kushner. [applause] >> good evening, everyone. this is a very special evening. i'm delighted all of you could join us for this discussion about the trump administration's approach to middle east peace.
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we're going to spend the next 45 minutes in a bit of a strange conversation talking about something but not really talking about it. [laughter] because tonight, unless we're going to make even more news than i expect, tonight is not the big reveal. that day -- it won't be for another -- [inaudible] but there is still quite a lot to talk about the middle east peace process without actually talking about the middle east peace plan. so, first, i just want to extend again my thanks to you, jared, for joining us for this occasion. [applause] >> thank you, rob. and thank you for having me. it's an honor to be here with all of you tonight. >> so let's begin with what you're proposing. is it?
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[applause] no, no. i've listened carefully to the statements that you've made and your colleagues have made. will it be a plan, a vision, a framework, a proposal? which one of these words is an accurate description of what we're going to hear? >> so we could use a lot of different words to describe what it is that we've been working on, but we're going away from all the typical diplomatic speak about how do you describe things at a high level. what we've put together over the last year is i would say more of an in-depth operational document that shows what we think is possible and how the people can live together, how security could work, how indirection can work and really how do you try to form the outline of what a brighter future could be. you know, i've worked very closely now for the last two years on this with jason greenblatt who's been absolutely
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phenomenal, an amazing lawyer and with, obviously, david friedman who's been a great ambassador and also was a great lawyer in his time and with avi. and what we've done is we've been able to -- we started by studying what had been tried and why we thought in our stilts it hadn't been -- estimation it hadn't been successful at the time. so the first phase was really an assessment phase. and we did that by studying the different efforts, we read a hot of books, we spoke to a lot of people, we traveled around the region, we spoke to negotiators who had been doing this for a long time, we spoke to the neighboring countries, and we really tried to pull from them what they thought could be an appropriate solution to this. and so as with we got forward, we started saying, well, a lot of the discussion and a lot of the disagreement seems to be antibiotic about these high-level concepts. i always found in my business career when you'd have a dispute on a contract, you'd go into the
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details, and you could usually so things. so we said why don't we just start writing this out, you know, two-state versus one-state, you know, you can't say two-state, and i realized that means different things to different people. it means one thing to the israelis, one thing to the palestinians, so we said let's not say it. let's work on the details of what this means. so we started writing down a document, and we started with five pages and made it to ten pages, twenty pages, thirty pages, and we kept refining it as we would get more and more input. so i think what we've put together is a document that i do believe addresses a lot of these issues in a very detailed way, probably a more detailed way than has ever been done before. into what, hopefully, that will do is hoe people this is possible. if there are disagreements, hopefully, they can disagree about certain specifics as opposed to disagreeing about high-level concepts. if you look at a lot of past negotiations, they're basically trying to wordsmith documents to
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basically not agree. that's not how you solve problems, that's how you defer problems. i enjoy working for this president, but one of the things that i admire is he's not going to allow you to pretend something's solved if it's not solved. we should either solve it or admit that it's not solved and really try to work hard at putting a solution for it. the second thing we started putting together was an economic vision for the region. and what we did is we start looking at the divide in the region. and, you know, when i was on the campaign, all the experts were saying, well, you have the sunnies and the shias, and that's the big divide with the arabs. but what i see is the big guide now is leaders who are trying to empower their people and create more opportunity for them to have a better life, and then you have leaders that are trying to oppress their people, often using religion and other excuses as a reason to try and hold their people down. so when we looked at the palestinians, we said, well, what are the opportunities that
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they can have. what's been holding them back economically. obviously, you have the core issues, but we started building an economic vision for how do you take that region and push it forward in a more substantial way. and so i think we built a very good business plan. we studied what they did in poland and how that was successful, we studied south korea, we studied japan, we studied singapore, and we studied areas like ukraine where they had a pretty good plan, but there was not very good execution, and a lot of the governance was off. so what we will be able to put together is a solution that we believe is a good starting point for the political issues. and then a outline for what economically can be done to help these people start living a better life. and i do believe this, is that there is a greater division between the experts and the people who negotiate this and talk about this and work at the think tanks and work in the negotiations than there is between the people. i think the people fundamentally want to live together, i think
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the people fundamentally want to have better lives. i think they want their kids to have jobs, they want to be able to pay their mortgage, and think that's a very important underliar. and i think everybody wants to live with dignity. the israelis want no know they have got security, that's important for this administration, israel's security. and i think if we work it well and we put pit out and people look at it with a fresh perspective, i think there'll be a lot of opportunity to start a newand, hopefully, that leads to the a breakthrough. and i will just say this, this is a very hard problem. this is probably one of the hardest problems maybe that exists in the world. and when the president asks us to take this on, you know, jason, david, myself, he says, no, i want you guys to really try to solve this. i don't want you to make an effort and create a downside so you can blame somebody else if it fails. i believe this is an issue that needs to be solved. me said i don't think if you soft in the rest of the region turns out well, be i think you can't fix the whole region without this being resolved.
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it is something that's held the region back. if you think about just the middle east, what china's been able to accomplish between 2001 and today, they've built, you know, an amazing economy, they've built a great country, they've taken hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. if you look at the middle east and what's happened with all the war and all the conflict and all the division, they basically stayed in place, maybe even gone backwards. if we can figure out how to change the paradigm and get people to focus on betterment of life and how do you create more opportunity, and somehow we have to break this cycle, i do think there's a lot of potential for them to get on a good path. there's a lot of wealth, a lot of resources, where it's located strategically a lot of really great people. so we're finding reasons to be optimistic, and we're giving it the best shot we can. >> so let me ask you two why questions. the big why and then the tactical why. i know you started to answer the big why, but i i want to go a little bit deeper. recently at the time 100 event
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you explained that the administration had four big priorities in the middle east. the first three, where i sit, certainly make a lot of sense; confronting iran, defeating isis, combating the ideology of radical islamic extreme theism. extremism. the question is about what comes up number four. if you had said solving the world's worst humanitarian crisis, yemen, okay. if you had said solving the world's worst refugee crisis, syria, okay. what makes solving the israeli/palestinian crisis -- an important issue, to be sure -- what makes that rise to the level of being at that high priority? >> so i would think that if you would have gone back five, six years and if you would have asked people what they thought was the biggest issue in the region, they would have said it was this issue. and i think that what i said at
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that last interview was that those were the four issues that we were outlining when we went to saudi arabia. and the president chose to take his first trip to saudi arabia, and he thought that it was important to really get everyone to come together to try to solve these issues and say that this is not america's responsibility, this is not saudi arabia's responsibility, this is all of our collective responsibility. and i do think that on those first three issues we've made tremendous progress. if you think about what the president's done to get out of the jcpoa, the iran deal, i think we've tried to do everything we can to make sure that all of the different areas where they're being aggressive whether it's yemen, whether it's syria, whether it's with hamas, whether it's hezbollah, to make sure that we limit their resources so that they're not able to export terror in the way that they have done. and the administration's been very clear with iran. we want to be able to work with iran, but we want them to not be looking outward. and once they focus on trying to
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make their country better and improving their lives, we're happy to work with them on doing that, but they can't be infringing and trying to destabilize the whole region. that's been a very, very important issue for the president. and, again, they chant death to israel, death to america, the same thing that the houthis do in yemen. so the yemen issue, i think, is more an offshoot of the iran issue, so i kind of put that in the same box because that's the root cause of what's happening there with the instability. with regards to isis, when we came into -- this administration, the caliphate was very, very large, and isis was obviously in a stronger position. and i think the president, you know, got together immediately, he it was one of the first priority it is he set out, and he said, look, we need a global coalition to figure out how to defeat this, and he sat down, he studied the problem very carefully, and i think the progress we've made there is unquestionably beyond people's expectations. i remember seeing the news during the campaign about all the different things we were
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seeing every day, and it really was brutal, and now that's basically gone in a large part, the physical caliphate. the third thing was something i personally was much more passionate about, was with regards to, you know, the ideology and talking about, you know, you can kill a terrorist, you can kill a fighter, but how do you make sure that this isn't just spawning more and you're not dealing with this problem for much longer time to come. and i think that the work that we've been able to do with saudi arabia and with a lot of the arab countries and with a lot of the leaders to really figure out how do you get information out, how do you win the war on the internet, how do you make sure that you're monitoring very closely who's preaching what and making sure that people are restoring islam to what it should be as a religion of peace and as a religion of tolerance. and so i think we've made progress in terms of that. there's been some good leaders that have worked with the president there. so i think that the progress there is also very good in two
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years. with regards to this issue, again, we see this as, you know, israel's a very special country. it's the only democracy in the region. it's america's strongest ally. they're a great military partner. we do a lot of business with them in a lot of ways, so israel's security is something that's very important to this country, it's something that's very important to the president, and it's something that we want to see, we want to see that resolved. and i do think that a lot of what we'll do here, in order for israel to be secure long term, they need to resolve this issue. i think it's very important. you have to make compromises in order to do that. i don't think anyone will question if we do ask israel to make compromises in our proposal that we're going to ask them to do things that would put them at risk security wise. i don't think the president would take -- he would not take decisions himself that he would think would put america and the people who he represents at risk, and he wouldn't expect another leader to do that. but he also thinks that if you're able to help the
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palestinian people have dignity and have opportunity and create a new paradigm and break this cycle, he thinks that that's within a the whole region's interest and also in america's interest. we spend a lot of money in that region, our military cost is there. there's a lot of threat that comes from that region, and the more we can lean towards stabilization, that's a very important thing. and syria is a very important issue as well, and i think that's something we spend time working on, and i know that secretary pompeo's been working hard to try to find what the correct outcome is there. and that's another one of the top priorities. >> all right. let me ask you the tactical why which is why do you think the circumstances are right for a u.s. peace plan now? administration officials have said from time to time that the plan wouldn't be presented until the time was right. assuming that, as has been reported, that june 2019 is the time -- give or take -- what
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makes that the right time? >> sure. so when i got in, people told me, you know, you're crazy to work on this, it's not the right time, this is impossible, it will never happen. so i don't think there's ever a perfect time to do this. but i do think what we've been able to do over the last couple years is put ourselves in a position where we do feel like now is a good time to put something out there. i think that when we made the decision to recognize jerusalem and the president asked, you know, will this make your job easier or harder, and the answer i gave him was i think short term it's probably harder because people will, you know, be more reactive and emotional. they're not used to, you know, a president that, a, is keeping his word, taking tough decisions and doing what he thinks is right in that regard. so i said, you know, this is going to be a different thing. but long term i think it helps, because what we need to start doing is just recognizing truthing. and i think when we recognize jerusalem, that is a truth. jerusalem is the capital of israel, and that would be part
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of any final agreement anyway -- [applause] and i think that that was a very important component. the same thing with recognizing the golan heights. israel's had golan for 52 years, it's been rell tvly peaceful since they had it. syria's kind of a mess right now. you've got a leader that's committed, you know, mass genocide and the territory's all disputed and broken up. so i don't think there's any question that the golan, when things are resolved, that it should be part of israel. and so we recognize that too. and i think we're in a position now -- obviously, prime minister netanyahu just won, i think, a very good election. he'll build, hopefully, a strong coalition, and we'll work with him to see what we can do. and i do think that in the arab world there's a lot of, there's a lot of impatience too with the palestinian issue. the cause is kind of running dry a little bit with regards to, you know, people have been funding this thing for a long
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time. they've got more aid than any group of people in history. and what we have to show for it is really not much at this point, unfortunately. it's, you know, there are some people who have done very well, and maybe those people like the situation where the aid's coming in, and it's enriching, you know, a few at the top, but it hasn't trickled down to the people. and maybe that's been a disincentive for people to actually want to solve the issue. so you have a lot of people who have been in charge of trying to solve it for a long time, and they have not -- they have a perfect track record at not achieving a solution, and maybe they like it that way. i mean, i see them attacking the deal. they don't even know what's in it yet. and i think that maybe that shows they want the status quo. so what we want to do is put something out that we think is based on logic where unquestionably we can say that this will lead to the palestinian people living a much better life, and we hope that people will act rationally. and i do think it'll be a test for the arab countries and for the international community. are they going to be stuck in reflexive positions that don't make sense and that have not
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created peace, or are they going to look at this for what it is, study it and say this makes sense, why don't you try to engage with it if you have, you know, problems with these details, sit down with them, try to change it. i do think this is a problem that deserves to be solved, and i am hopeful that, you know, the leadership from both sides will sit together and try to, you know, figure out based on the framework we provide how they can move forward. >> so you just made a reference to the leadership from both sides. there's really no ignoring the fact that one of the leaderships loves you -- [laughter] and the other leadership publicly vilifies the administration. is that an environment, from your experience, that's conducive to negotiating success? >> i would say that doing it the old way hasn't really worked, so, you know, our view was, you know, we are who we are, and we're going to say what we say,
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we're going to do what we think is right, and people will either react positively to it or negatively to it. but at least people know that we're going to be honest with what we do. and again, i think that, hopefully, people will be surprised when they see in that we've tried very hard to take a very, very difficult set of issues. you know, i said this before, but i had a businessmen to have who whenever he'd have to the take a tough decision make a t start, reasons to do something and reasons not to do something. and if both sides looked at this and made a, t chart, i think they'd say there's a lot more benefit to doing this than not doing it. when i speak to people, a lot of the stated position of arab countries is we're going to do something along the lines of the air rain peace initiative. that was a very noble idea in 2002 when they put that out, but if that would have been a recipe to create peace, it would have made peace 17 years ago. i mean, you have the palestinian
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position and you have the israeli position, and whatever's going to be resolved has to be somewhere in the middle. so i think both leaderships are probably a little bit nervous to talk about what their potential compromise solutions could be. so our hope is that maybe we help them get a little bit closer by putting this out. >> so let me pursue that line of questioning for a moment. so you and jason greenblatt have said that the plan will answer all the core questions, and it will provide a vision of how life could be better for palestinians and how the israelis can achieve what they want most, security. first, let's clarify this: when the president announced the move of the embassy from jerusalem -- a movement i supported, by the way -- his statement included the following. quote, we are not taking a position on any final status
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issues including the specific boundaries of israeli solvency in jerusalem or the contested borders, those questions are up to the parties involved. so just to be clear, you're going to propose answers to those final -- >> that's correct. >> you will? all right. now, let's look at that equation, better life for palestinians, security for israel. for the palestinians, it sounds an awful lot like quality of life enhancement. that sounds like money. a lot of money. whose money are we talking about? rumor has it that middle east countries haven't been lining up to pony up to support this. will there be a substantial american ante-ing up in order to trigger larger sums from others? how substantial are we talking about? >> yeah. so since it's not my money to put out -- [laughter] it's really, it's other people's
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money, it's -- and, again, you have to be very mindful of rumors. one thing i'm very proud of that we've been able to accomplish in two years is we've been able to keep this very close. we've had a leaky environment here in washington where a lot of things leak, but nothing's leaked from my team, and nothing's leaked on this file, and i think that's something that we're very proud of. i think that's built a lot of trust for us with a lot of our counterparts, you know? whether it's in israel, whether it's middle eastern countries. i think they've all seen that after talking with us directly, nothing's ever made it to the press. and i think that over time, that built more trust and allowed us to have more productive discussions because they're willing to discuss things more freely which is very, very important. so i wouldn't go off of what you -- look, i think it goes like this. we have to decide do we want the keep throwing money into, into a situation that perpetuates the situation and even makes it worse? one of the things that i thought was very funny was they said,
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oh, we were accused of trying to separate the palestinian people. i was reading a book on the hamas/fatah split, and they were accusing hamas of the exact same things they were accusing us about ten years earlier. so i think there's a lot of different situations where the situation's just gone back and bad in a very, very bad way. what i do believe is important for the improvement of people's lives is you need an environment where people can feel like they're able to invest, right? so the reality is i see so many well-intended programs through the different aid agencies and through different private donors and they get some entrepreneurs together, they seat belt -- they get an industrial zone. but until you establish borders, establish security, have rule of law, have transparency, eliminate corruption, really enforce property rights and put people in a position where people have an environment where they can make investments and feel comfortable about it, you're never really going to see that economy rise, and you're never going to see people's
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living standards rise, and you're never going to see people start to have the self-determination and the better lives that they've been talking about and wanting to get for a long time. so i think that we have a real chance to do this. but i think the twos twos have have -- the two have to come together. i have spoken to a lot of countries about supporting this. i've spoken with some members of congress about supporting this, and we'll see. i mean, i think that it's something that, hopefully, i can get people to sign up for and so far i would say people are very happy with the work product we've put together. i think they think it's very in depth, they think it's something -- when you see it, you'll understands why it took us so long. and i think that's something that, hopefully, people will see as a thoughtful effort. and, again, i'll say this too because i see a lot of commentary, and in washington there's a lot of people with opinions, obviously -- [laughter] but what i would say is that people should be, it's very easy to want to sound like a wise man in this business and to talk about why this is hard or why
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this could fail or what, you know, we're doing wrong. but the reality is that i say my favorite quote that i read about the middle east was somebody said in the middle east the pessimists usually right, the optimists are usually wrong, but it's the optimists that drive the change. i think what, hopefully, people do is they'll look at all this stuff, and they'll say, you know, we want to help you push this forward. we think this is a good idea. we want to push both sides to figure out how to move forward instead of allowing them to find excuses to not move forward. and i think that's where we want to get to. and i think that this framework will hopefully be -- look, this has been stuck for, you know, a hong time. you know, there hasn't been a lot of fresh ideas, there hasn't been any breakthroughs in a long time, and the reality is that the situation is getting more and more untenable. and so we didn't create a lot of the problems. i showed up here two years ago, but i was given the assignment of trying to find a solution between the two sides, and i think what we'll put forward is a framework that i think is
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realistic, it's based on -- it's executionable, it's executable, and it's something that i do think, you know, will lead to both sides being much better off. that was the way i approached it. >> fair enough. you briefly referred a few moments ago to the concept of state, and i want to ask you about this. ten years ago in a historic speech prime minister netanyahu outlined his call for a demilitarized palestinian state. he said, quote, in my vision of peace, two free peoples living side by side in this small land with good neighborly relations, mutual respect, each with a flag, an anthem and a government. does that still apply in your view? >> like i said, we're going to put out a very extensive document -- [laughter] and i'm going to let you decide, and i'm sure you'll write something very interesting on it when it comes out.
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[laughter] [applause] >> all right. all right, all right. [laughter] all right, let me can you a different -- ask you a different question. [laughter] so during his election campaign, prime minister netanyahu committed himself to begin the process of annexation of israeli territory at some point. something that he had never publicly said before. what is the administration's view on israeli annexation of territory in the west bank? would you have a problem if this was done before the plan was presented? have you told this to the prime minister? >> so i have not discussed this with the prime minister, and i do hope that what will happen is as he forms his government, we've been giving him space to do that. i do imagine that one there is a government formed, we'll start engaging on this process, and we'll have discussion. and i do hope that what we're doing -- i said i hope both sides will take a real look at it, the israeli side and the
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palestinian side, these four unilateral steps are made, and i hope they'll assess it and see if they do believe that this is a pathway for a better future. >> so is it a fair statement to say that one can either have unilateral annexation or a negotiated solution but not both? >> you know, one thing i saw early on in this is that, is that there was a lot of -- our team, we'd is have a lot of issues that would come up every day. and i think a lot of maybe the past people who have worked on this file can relate to this where every day you're called on a different issue. they're doing this, they're doing that. i said to my team, guys, we're not in the rabbit-chasing business. they said, these aren't rabbits, these are big issues. our job is to try to find a solution between the two uns, and that's -- the two countries, and that's the disease. our job is not to deal with the symptoms, that's for them to
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deal with between each other. but that's not our job as in the role that we're playing. we believe our job is to try to propose something that that coud actually cure the disease. and if you cure the disease, a lot of the symptoms go away. again, that's what we've been focused on. there's a lot of distraction. you know, we reminded ourselves every day and we've done in the last two years that there's about a thousand ways to fail in this file, and we've tried our best every day to make the right decisions to try to push forward and give ourselves the highest probability of doing something that could make a difference, achieve a good outcome and try to avoid decisions and situations that will give us a path to achieving a bad outcome. but, you know, again, if you were just taking the smart money bet, the smart money bet is that this is a tough problem, and it's been around for a long time. but, you know, i do hope we're able to change the paradigm and put something guard that gets both -- forward that gets both sides to very seriously look at the facts and try to navigate a
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way where they can allow their people to be better off for the long term. and that's very important to the president, it's very important to jason, to me, to david. >> so you used the metaphor of curing a disease which is a pretty high bar for success. and i want to ask you about your definition of success. is success actually solving, re solving -- resolving this problem, as you suggested? is success the middle bar of getting the two sides just to engage on what you propose? is success the lower bar of getting a quorum of arab states to say this is serious and worthy of discussion? what, in your view, is a legitimate, reasonable bar of success? >> so you're being very washington with this question -- [laughter] right? but, you know, again, i'm not thinking about it that way. our goal is to go in, we were asked to try and solve a problem, and so, you know, one
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of the things that the president's good at, is he's good at coming into a situation and being very flexible from the beginning to the end of it. and my view is that what we've done is we've tried to develop a path, we've assessed it, we've tried to tailor-make a solution. one thing we've done very differently than what's been done in the past is, you know, i remember my first meeting out i met with the israeli negotiator, the pal the stint january negotiator, and i asked them, i said, well, let's take these issues, right? on this one issue, what is an outcome that you think you could accept that you think the oh side could live with? 1917, 1948, 1967, 1973. and i just said, look, we don't want to go new the history, i'm just curious here today in 2017 what's an outcome that works? okay, you need to get two people together, four people, you need to go toes low, madrid -- i said, you know, i don't want to talk about process. i just want to come up with what a potential outcome could be
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here. and what i realize is it's very tempting to kind of get involved in process and history and fight about things that are not operational to people's lives. and what we've tried to do is focus on a solution that we think is viable, and then the last phase is trying to achieve that as much as possible. so, look, at minimum, hopefully people will look at this, think it's serious and change the discussion. i think the discussion has gotten stale. i think nothing's worked, and i do think that our approach has been, is that if we are going to fail, we don't want to fail doing it the same way it's been done in the past -- >> you want to be original in your failure. >> well -- [laughter] hopefully, the goal is not to fail, but i think that what we want to do is figure out how to do this in an intuitive way. you have three people who are not from politics, not from diplomacy, and what we've tried to do is do this in a very rational way. and, hopefully, that is different. and, again, i do think that both sides will look at this, hopefully both sides think it's
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a serious proposal, hopefully it stimulates discussion, stimulates thought and maybe leads to some breakthroughs that have been elusive for a very, very long time. and, again, you know, our number one goal is wen want the palestinian people's lives to get better, and we want israel's security to be stronger, and we want both sides to be able to find a pathway to come together and figure out how to bridge some of these previously unbridgeable divides. >> just on the equation you just laid out, palestinian lives to be better, israeli security to be secured. is it, is it not unreasonable for a palestinian to hear that equation and to say where is my political aspiration in that equation? however i define my political aspiration. is it at least reasonable for them to say i just don't hear -- if i'm a palestinian -- i don't
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hear my political aspiration in the equation of my life being better and the israeli security being secured. >> look, i'll say this very straight which is i think that the average palestinian doesn't have a ton of faith in their government, they don't have a ton of faith in their neighbors, they don't have a ton of faith in israel, they don't have a ton of faith in america, right? they've been lied to for a long time by a lot of people, and i think they're at a place where i don't think they know what to believe or who to believe. so it's an unfortunate situation, but they've been pawns in a greater game in the middle east for a long time. you have a lot of palestinians that were kicked out of arab countries for whatever reason and put into the situation that they're in. arab countries who claimed to fight for them and care about them wouldn't take them into their countries when they were refugees. so you've got a very twisted history this. and i think that you've got, you know, a current situation where you've got hamas, obviously, in gaza which is just driven that place into the ground. i think it's really, i think the
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people are hostages to a terror organization, and that's an unfortunate situation. and then in the west bank, i think you have people who are pretty repressed. and, again, i think that they question whether the leadership is actually looking after their interests or not. and so, again, i think that for the palestinians the political aspirations are important. i do believe what we'll put out will address a lot of their political aspirations and a lot of their dignity. that is important to us. but i just think they're at a point where they're not able to live the lives that they think they deserve because a lot of this has screwed it up for them. and i do think that we think about that a lot. and, again, instead of coming at this from the political lens and say, okay, let's jump into this and do the political negotiation that's been done before in the same way that it's been done before, let's focus on the palestinian people. we spoke to to a lot of palestinian people, business leaders, we spoke a lot of people, and we said what is it that you're looking for. and we tried to figure out how to design something that we think can be very acceptable to
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them. and the question will be whether the leadership has the courage to try and jump into it and try to achieve it and whether they have the intent for preservation or whether they have the intent for actually betterment of the lives of their people. but, again, the strategic advantage we have now is we know what's in the plan. we believe that it's virtuous. we believe that it's something that is beneficial to both sides. and it's been very disheartening for us to see that the palestinian leadership has basically been attacking a plan that they don't know what it is as opposed to reaching out. if they truly cared about making the lives of the palestinian people better, i think they would have taken different decisions over the last year, maybe over the last 20 years, but that's just my -- but that kind of doesn't matter, right? the neat thing about this is we're going to put it out. everyone has a fresh opportunity to try to engage with it. and when we put it out, we'll be able to see what happens. and people, you know, have speculated a million ways who will be supportive, who will be not. we don't know.
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i mean, we're talking to people, we've had a lot of discussions. i think people will be surprised what's in it, but i hope people act rationally which is they take what we put out, they read it, they look at it, they look at it for what it is, not for what it's not, and they say say has there been any better ideas put forward, is this real, could this work, and based on that they push forward. i mean, we're doing the best we can. and i just think, again, it's not like there's a door b that's been presented or that we've taken away from them or that's existed that has led them to achieve good things for them. we're just being real list ig, and i think that's -- realistic and i think that's, unfortunately, the situation as we pointed, but we're doing our best to try to find a solution that i believe will have a lot of opportunity for both sides. >> you referred to the, a moment ago to laying out the plan. i just want to ask you briefly about the rollout of the plan
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since we're not going to get into the details of what's in the plan. >> i was going to go through the details. [laughter] >> is the plan going to be a surprise to prime minister netanyahu, to the leaders of jordan and syria -- not syria, saudi arabia and egypt? [laughter] are they going to be reading about it the same day we all read about it, or are they going to be briefed ahead of time, and will you welcome their input at all before the final, final version is delivered? >> yeah. so, again, to date we've kept the details very close and the way that you know we've kept them very close is that nothing's leaked out. and i think that's been a great asset. you know, we're making the calls now. we're finally deciphering the process, how we're going to do it. but i do think that all of our allies and parter ins will be very well consulted, and i do think hopefully we're putting
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people in position to make sure that they can be as supportive as possible. but that's not based on relationship, that's based on substance. and i do think that we'll figure out what it'll be. but again, the good thing about what i do is that, you know, who i speak with and when we speak to them, you know, the people who need to know know about it, but the people who don't need to know usually don't know about it. [laughter] so -- >> you said so earlier, the smart money -- [laughter] is on not success. after all, you're hoping to accomplish what every president since nixon and every secretary of state since kissinger has in one way, shape or form has tried to do. but the smart money is not on success, especially given the high bar you've outlined, success is actual resolution of the conflict. have you factored into your thinking the implications of
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failure? failure is its own,, has its own set of outcomes and has its own impact on the various parties. what do you think about the potential implications of failure? >> so one thing that's been different for me about being in washington is that, you know, everyone in washington can complain about the status quo, and then when you try to, when you try to put something in play to make something better, then all of a sudden everyone goes crazy about all of the things that could go wrong, and they talk about how things could also get worse. look, the reality of life is that if you want to make something better, you have to take a risk that it could get worse. and our goal is to figure out how do we mitigate the downside and how do we do everything possible to try to achieve the upside. i just think what we're doing here is we've been -- and we've been doing this for two years, we've just been telling the truth. and i think, again, with our actions we're telling the truth, we're dealing with reality. and when you do that, i think that it usually leads to a
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better place. so we're pretty confident that we'll put this out, it'll be a good basis for discussion. again, success can look like a lot of different things. it can look like an agreement, a better discussion, closer cooperation, maybe resolve a couple issues. maybe not. but, you know, i just think that the situation is such right now that i just think that it has to move forward. and i do think that not trying is a big problem too. and i do think, too, and i learned this in business, and i think people in politics have a harder time with this, but sometimes doing nothing is a decision. and we don't think that that's usually an acceptable decision unless we're doing it intentionally. and i do think here that the status quo and where it's headed to is not the ideal situation, and we just hope that what we put out has a lot of different pathways that could potentially make this better. >> so just on this point,
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because a very wise, some will even say brilliant observer of the peace process recently wrote, and i paraphrase -- [laughter] issuing the middle east peace plan in the current environment is a lose/lose proposition. [laughter] if rightists in israel build upon a palestinian rejection to push for annexation, the plan could unleash forces that drive a stake in the heart of u.s./israel relations while destroying israeli/palestinian security cooperation, perhaps even the palestinian authority. is that at least a potential outcome? >> i just want to say it's so much easier being a writer than it is to be -- [laughter] [applause] you know, it will be what it will be. and i think that, again, we spend our time just trying to focus on what do we believe is the highest probability path that we can take to create a good outcome, and how do we do
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everything to mitigate bad outcomes. you know, one thing i've seen in kind of, you know, in the building i work in is it's not like you're faced every day with a problem and they say, okay, this is the good option and this is the bad option. it's usually it's the bad option and the really bad option, and you're trying to figure out these really bad problems. again, we've inherited a lot of problems on a lot of issues. again, i've admired the way that the president and his national security team not just on this issue, but if you look globally, we came into what we felt was a strategy-free environment. i do think that the president with h.r. mcmaster and now with john bolton have kind of taken the world and said these are our different priorities. we've put together a national security tragedy, we put together integrated strategies on how to get there. the president's taking on a lot of different files at once, and he can only do that because he's got a very strong vision, a opportunity of energy, and i think he's got a very good team
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that's well coordinated. where it's secretary pompeo, john bolton, myself, bob lighthizer, steve my mnuchin or wilbur ross, dealing with the trade issue, conflict issues, national security issues, i do think we have, you know, a very good team working strategies. we're coordinated to try to figure out how do we create the best outcomes possible. we're always looking, you know, america is a great country. i've come to really appreciate what our place is in the world, what our influence can be in the world. i think that especially on the trading side i think our president's brought a fresh approach which was badly needed. i think that a lot of these trade deals that we're doing should have been rebalanced a long time ago, and i think it took somebody disruptive like this president and and a great trade negotiator like bob lighthizer to come in and really shake things up and figure out how do you do it. and these trade negotiations, people were predicting all the things that could go wrong, and
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you put tariffs on and there's retaliation. the reality is that the president understands how to calibrate risk, and he understands the power of the american market, and he has not gotten us into any wars. he's been able to -- he's trying to figure out how to draw us down from wars, but he's been able to figure out how to reestablish america's place in the world but figure out how to rebalance some of these relationships that are out of whack. i guess that's a little bit of a rambling answer, but every day we come in, or we look at all the different challenges, and we're trying to figure out how to achieve an outcome. again, it's very easy to prognosticate and talk about how everything you do has the potential to go wrong, but we've got a lot of really smart people in the government, and everything we do is peer-reviewed, and we challenge each other. we do it respectfully whereas it used to happen in the press with some of the people, but now it's a collaborative group. not everyone agrees with each other, but the president likes it that way. ultimately, at the end of the day, there's one decision
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maker -- >> this is precisely where i want to end our conversation, with just a couple of final quick questions. has the president read the plan? [laughter] >> so the president has been involved from the very beginning, and again, this is one he asked me to work on because it was an issue he wanted to see engaged with. so one thing working for this president, it's actually amazing because he's got, i think he's definitely increased the metabolism of government in the sense that he, he's got so many different cabinet secretaries and administration officials working on so many different files, and he's on top of all of us. so he's involved with the details. he's been pushing us, we've been reporting back to him with regularity. he's read a lot of the parts of it, hasn't seen the latest draft because we've still been refining, but the president's been very involved in creating this, creating the strategy, and he's a hands-on leader. and that's been a lot of fun to work with him on it, because
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this is one that he does care about it, and he would like to see us go forward in a good way. >> so lastly, sometime before you go public i assume there will be some oval office meeting or a mar-a-lago family dinner, perhaps -- [laughter] where the president turns to you and asks, okay, jared, honestly, what's your opinion? this plan is going to have my name on it. is this going to be a winner? you know i like winners. [laughter] i really, i really hate losers. [laughter] which is this? we don't have to do it. [laughter] is out worth it? >> so -- is it worth it? >> so when you work for a president, you try hard not to disappoint if, but you can disappoint. when you work for your father-in-law, you can't disappoint. [laughter] [applause] so i, i think i've established a good track record now on all the different tasks he's given me. i've come back with results, and
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i've come back with good advice, and i do think that this is something that i do think he'll be proud of. this is something that i think will be a document that i think will be elevating the discussion on an issue that's hard. and i think that when you're in the white house, i think the biggest mistake is not to try to solve hard problems. and what i learned on criminal justice reform, what i learned during the mexico/canada deal which, again, everyone said we were never going to get a deal with mexico, and last minute we got the deal, and everyone said, well, you'll never get a deal with canada. and then we got a deal with canada, and i did the same on criminal justice. people say, oh, just because you got criminal justice, why do you think you can work on immigration? i said, well, if you're in the white house where we are, you're supposed to try hard to solve hard problems. and if you're not spending your time trying to solve hard problems, then you're wasting your time. and i think that this president is not afraid to fail at things, and he's not somebody who's sitting there saying, well, what's the political calculus on
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this or that. he's saying this is what i think is right, this is what i think wrong. i think that's what the american people like about him. and he's willing to let us swing big at hard problems as long as we're doing it in a smart and responsible way. so i do think the president will be proud of it, hopefully the community will look at. and, look, i think that, hopefully, people -- people should root for this to succeed. people should want this to succeed. i think people should want people to take these issues that maybe have held them apart for a long time and say, okay, you know what? both parties have to give a little bit, but you'll gain a lot more than you give, and that's how you make deals, and compromise is important. and that that's a noble thing. i think the president will lay out a framework that i think is very defensible, that i think is something that has a lot of new ideas in it and is something that the i think he'll be very proud of and, hopefully, does lead to some breakthroughs. so i personally very am very hod
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that he asked me to do this. it's been very interesting working on this file. i'm going a lot of things these days that i never thought i would be doing in my life, this is not the plan i had. but it's an honor to work on it. and if we can make breakthroughs that can help people live better and safer lives, there's nothing more noble than trying to pursue peace between people even though it's really hard. >> ladies and gentlemen, please join me in thank -- [applause] mr. jared kushner. [applause] thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] [inaudible conversations]
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>> we'll have more from the soref symposium later with more discussion about the middle east peace process. live coverage when the event continues here on c-span2. ♪ >> c-span's "washington journal," live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up friday morning, a discussion on attorney general barr's testimony this week with nelson cunningham, former white house general counsel from the clinton administration, and gregory brower, former assistant director of the fbi's office of congressional affairs. then we'll talk about the unrest in venezuela with eric farnsworth of the council of the
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americas. be sure to watch c-span's "washington journal" live at seven eastern friday morning. join the discussion. ♪ ♪ >> here's a look at some of our featured programs this weekend on booktv. saturday at 6:50 p.m. eastern, tyler callen with his latest book, "big business." 9. >> most of the money spent is spent as voters or desire x. you look at our man in the white house, president donald trump, what he's doing on trade i very much disapprove, most american businesses disapprove. what he's doing in terms of predictability and the rule of law, most businesses are against. >> and then sunday at noon eastern, "in depth" is live with university of pennsylvania professor and author kathleen hall jamison for an interactive discussion on her latest books, "packaging the president key" and "cyber war: how russian hackers and trolls helped elect a president." join our conversation with kathleen hall jamison with your
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phone calls, betweens and facebook questions. and then at nine eastern on "after words," stanford university professor jennifer eberhardt offers her insights on implicit racial bias in her book, "biased." >> a lot of people talk about that it's old-fashioned ray self, but this implicit bias is something that you may not even know you have, something that you don't know is affecting how you're thinking even. and even if you, we know what the stereotypes are about various social groups, we don't always know that those stereotypes are influencing what we're doing, how we're treating someone, how we're evaluating someone. >> watch this weekend on booktv on c-span2. >> sunday night on "q&a," lincoln scholar harold holzer and best selling author amity shlaes will share their perspectives on c-span's new ok


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