tv 2019 Soref Symposium Dinner with Jared Kushner CSPAN May 2, 2019 11:38pm-12:39am EDT
senior adviser to president pret trump sat down to discuss his efforts on the middle east peace plan. he spoke at a dinner hosted by the washington institute for near east policy for about an hour. >> my name is james schreiber and it's my pleasure to welcome you to the washington institute symposium. i serve as the institute's chairman. [applause] >> thank you. tonight we are joined by nearly 200 members of the institute's board of trustees from across the united states as well as distinguished guests from across the policy community. this event is also being viewed live around the world so as is
custom i would be grateful if everyone turned off the ringer onat their phones that you can feel free to tweet as much as you like. this is the major annual event in washington. named in memory of two outstanding patrons of the institute, sam and celine whose generosity was critical to the survival of the institute more than three decades ago. that generosity lives on in their wonderful extended family many members of whom are with us today. they are proud american citizen is committed to an active and engaged american role in pursuit of security and peace in the middle east. for them and all of our supporters i say a heartfelt thank you.
[applause] in these hyper partisan times i'm pleased to say that you have entered a partisan free zone. that's an oxymoron in dc, but the washington institute is an end nonpartisan research institution. we accept support only from american citizens. we do not accept any money from any foreign government, foreign entities or persons. not only did the trustees spanned the political spectrum, but the remarkable faculty of policy experts, women and men with experience as diplomats, scholars, journalists and military leaders stand the spectrums of religion, ethnicity
here and in the middle east. it's to provide the government with ideas to advance security and peace in the middle east and equallydd important to do it ona timely basis. more than 30 years ago both republican and democratic administrations, republican and democratic administrations have recognized the talent by the senior positions in both republican and democratic administrations. the tradition began with the author of the first policy paper you may not believe it but it's true and it continues today. last year -- [applause] last year the distinguished fellow was asked to serve as
secretary of state special envoy for the agent. jim was to be with us today that he's on the job in turkey. another member of the ticket family took another step closerr to assuming senior position on the senate foreign relations committee voted 19-3 to recommend a confirmation of our fellow, david shanker. [applause] to serve as the assistant secretary of near east affairs. on behalf of the staff and trustees of the institute, please accept our warmest congratulations. [applause] we have an exciting program this evening. two introduced the keynote event please welcome my friend and
partner our outstanding president shelley. [applause] thank you for your decades of leadership and dedication to the institute. i want to add my own welcome to the hundreds who are here this evening especially men is of the young leadership have taken time from their professional and family alliance toto join us. your presence underscores the depth of your commitment to the institute. from our earliest days the pursuit has been central to the mission. peace between the arabs and israelis isn'tt just a noble gol but it's a worthy american interest. it's not the only interest we have in the middle east were the
most urgent, but it helps to find what we stand for and for more than 30 years the scholars and experts have offered ideas to administrations ofst both parties on how to achieve this goal. considerable progress has been made including peace treaties in incremental progress with the palestinians but that peace remains elusive. tonight we have the opportunity to take a close look at the next chapter of the efforts to promote peace. we will do that with the person president trump has entrusted to lead the american peace efforts, the senior adviser, jared kushner.
[applause] a graduate of harvard university with a joint law degree, mba from nyu, he was a real estate developer before joining the campaign that brought his father-in-law to the white house. senior adviser to the president, he has a broad range of responsibilities from international trade and immigration to criminal justice reform. but to make people focus of course on the middle east have the pursuit of the arab israeli peace and the format will be spontaneous and unscripted. the conversation between jared kushner and our executive director. as most of you know, robert is the washington institute. he's been the director for the past 26 years. [applause]
among his many talents he's also a professional interviewer for the past 14 he has hosted a weekly talk show on the u.s. government arabic satellite channel explaining to middle east viewers how washington works or doesn't work. tonight we see those skills in action and if you don't appreciate the nuances of the discussion, fear not. after dinner they will decipher precisely what he heard and didn't here and on behalf of the washington institute i am pleased to welcome mr. jared kushner. [applause] >> good evening, everyone.
it's 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. we are 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 make more news than i expect, tonight isn't the big reveal. if that happens it won't be another month at the earliest but there's still quite a lot of talk about the middle east peace process without actually talking about the middle east peace plan. in want to extend my thanks to you for joining us for this occasion. [applause]
>> thank you for having me. it's an honor to be with all of you tonight. l >> let's begin with what you are proposing. [laughter] i listen carefully to the statements you and your colleagues have made. would be a plan, vision, frame work, i proposal, which of these words is an accurate description of what you're going to hear? >> we could use a lot of different words to describe what we've been working on the tr going away from all the typical owdiplomatic speech about how to describe things that the high level. so we put together the last year i would see a say it's more of n depth document that shows what we think is possible and how people can list together how security can work and interaction can work and how you try to form the outline of what
a brighter future can be. very closely now the last two years with jason who is an phenomenal as an amazing lawyer and a great partner on this and david friedman has been a great ambassador and also was a great player in his time. what we've done is they started by studying what has been tried and how people approached it to date and why we thought it hasn't been successful so the first phase is an assessment. we did that by studying the different efforts, read a lot of books, spoke to a lot of people, traveled around the region, spoke to negotiators have been doing this a long time and we spoke to the neighboring countries and really tried to pull from that what t we thought could be anhe appropriate
solution. a lot of the discussion and a lot of the disagreement seems to be about these high-level concepts i found when you have a dispute on the contract you go into the details. two states versus one state i realized that means different things to different people. lee said let's just work o on te details of what that means construct the site pages, 20 pages, 30 pages and kept refining it as we would get more and more input along the way so what we have put together is a documentet that addresses a lotf these in a detailed way probably more than has ever been done before and what that will do is ishow people this is possible d if there are disagreements
hopefully they can disagree about certain specifics as opposed to disagreeing about the concepts because if you look at a lot of these they are trying to words documents and that is until you solve problems. i enjoy working with this president that one of the things i admired leader sold it for work hard to try to put a solution forward for it. the second thing we start w putting together this and economic fishing and we start looking at the region. all the -- the big divide now you have leaders that are trying toto create more opportunity for them to have a better life and then leaders that are talking
about religion and other excuses as a way to hold people down. what are the opportunities holding them back because you need thesee issues to move forward but he started building and economic vision for how we take that and push it forward so i think we build a good business partner and we studied japan and singapore and then that areas like ukraine where there wasn't very good execution. we will be able toto put togethr a solution that's a good starting point and an outline for what can be done to help people start living a better
life. there is a greater division between the experts and the people that negotiate this. hepeople fundamentally want to live together and other kids to have jobs and be able to pay their mortgage. everybody wants to live with dignity. they want to know they have security that is important for this administration, israeli security and i think people look at it with a fresh if there will be an opportunity to start a new discussion. andug i will just say that thiss one ofwo the hardest problems mt be that exists in the world and when the president asks us to take this on he says i want you to really try to solve this, not make an effort and blame somebody else if it fails.
this is an issue that needs to be sold. i think you can sold -- it told the region back if you think just about the middle east and what china has beenom able to accomplish, they've built an amazing economy and they've taken hundreds of people out of poverty. if you look at the middle east and conflict and the division they basically stayed in place or have gone backwards. if we figure out how to change the paradigm and to get peoplepe to focus on bettering their life and how to create more opportunity we somehow have to break the cycle and i think there's a lot of potential. there's a lot of wealth and wresources. we are finding reasons to be optimistic.
>> recently at the event you've explained that the administration had four big priorities. the first three certainly make a lot of sense confronting iran, defeating isis, combating the ideology t of the extremism. the question is about what comes up, number four. solving the world's worst humanitarian crisis. if you had said something both worst refugee crisis, okay what makes solving this an important issue to be sure what makes it rise to the level of being at that high priority?
>> i think if you would have asked people what they thought was the biggest issue in the region they would have said it was this issue. but i said that the last interview is those were the four issues we were a outlining and e thought that it was important to get everyone to come together to try to solve these issues. i think we've made tremendous progress if we think about what the president has done to get out of the deal we've tried to do everything we can to make sure whether it is yemen, syria, they are not able to export
terrorism and the administration has been clear we want to be able to work with iran but not looking out for. we are happy to work with them on doing that so they are not infringing. with regards to isis it was obviously in a stronger position and the president got together immediately and said we need a global coalition to figure out how to defeat this and he worked his generals and sat down
and studied the problem very carefully. the progress we made there is unquestionably beyond expectations and it's not basically the fiscal caliphate. what was more passionate was with regards to the ideology that. how did you'r make sure you are not just dealing with the problem for a larger time to come but i think the work we have been able to do with saudi arabia and a lot of the countries and a lot of thought leaders to figure out how do you get information out and make sure that you are monitoring very closely making sure people are restoring what it should be
the religion of peace and religion of tolerance, so i think we have made progress and their leaders have worked with the president. the problem there is also very good in two years. with regards to thee issue again we see this as a very special country. one only democracy in the region. america's strongest ally. we do a lot of business with them in a lot of ways. so the securities something that's very important for the country and a very important tthat the president and somethg that we want to see resolved. a lot of what we will do here to make them long term is to resolve the issue you have to make compromises in order to do that. i don't think anyone will question the proposal that we are going to ask do you think we are putting them at risk security wise, i don't think the president would take the
positions himself that he would think would put america into people he represents at risk and he wouldn't expect another leader to do that if he thinks if he were able to help the repalestinian people have digniy and opportunity and create aw nw paradigm and break this cycle, he thinks that that is within the whole region's interest in ererica's interest. av flus . >>.
>> this would never happen i don't think there is ever a perfect time to do this. but what we have been able to do over the last couple years is to put ourselves in a position where we do feel now is a good time to put something out there. when we made the decision to recognize jerusalem the president said will this make your job easier or harder and they say because they will be more reactive and emotional because they are not used to t a president keeping his word or making toughg decisions doing what he thinks is right in that regard. so this is different.
what we need to start doing is recognizing the truth when we recognize jerusalem that is the truth. it is the capital of israel. [applause] also recognize the goal line heights and syria is a mess right now committing mass jared line - - genocide with the territory disputed there is no question going along that it should not be part of israel so we recognize that also so prime minister netanyahu after this election will d build a strong coalition to see what we can do. there is a lot of the patients
but the palestinian issue it is running dry with regards with people who have more aid than any group of people in history and what do they have to show for it isn't much at this point unfortunately. and that is a disincentive so you have a lot of people trying to solve that for a long time and they have that perfect track record of not having that solution so attacking the deal they don't even know what is in it yet. so what we want to do is be based on logic to say this will lead to the palestinian
people we hope people will act rationally is a test for the arab countries and international community with those positions that don't make sense and have not yreated peace or do they look at this to say this make sense? but i do think it's a problem that deserves to behe solved i'm hopeful for the leadership of both sides will sit together to figure out a framework that we provide can move forward. >> you made a reference to leadership from both sides there is no ignoring the fact one of those leaderships loves you and the other leadership publicly vilifies the administration. [laughter] is that an environment, from your experience that leads to
negotiating success? . >> doing it the old way hasn't really worked. we are who we are and we say what we sayy and do what we think is right. and then hopefully people will be surprised when they seent this a to take those issues but i had a business mentor making a tough decision would make a chart reasons to do it or not do it. what am i getting versus what am i gaining there a lot more benefits and that stated arab countries to do something with
the arab peace initiative. a very noble idea in 2002 but if that would've been a reese - - a recipe for ten years ago. and whatever can be resolved has to be in the middle so those leaderships are nervous talk about that compromise. and then to get closer by putting that out. . >> you have said the plan will answer all the core questions and provide a vision of how life could be better for palestinians and achieving what they want most, security. but first let's clarify and
then to take that statement to be included with it. . >> we are not taking a position on any of these issues or the resolution of contested borders those are up for the parties involved virchow on you will propose those answers. you will. . >> yes. . >> but it sounds like quality of life enhancement that sounds like a lot of money. whose money are we talking about? rumor has it middle east countries have notot been lining up to support this. with a substantial american and teeing up with larger sums
from others? how substantial are we talking about? . >> this isn't my money to put out. [laughter] itit is other people's money. you have to be very mindful. what we have been able to accomplish me have had legal - - a leaky environment but nothing has leaked from my team and that is something we are very proud of. we do build a lot of trust for our counterparts whether middle eastern countries are israel because they see after talking with us directly nothing has ever made it to the prospect over time that builds trust and makes more productive discussions. and it goes like this we have
to decide what we have to keep throwing money into a situation that perpetuates the situation? and doing the same thing they were accusing us so we do let them improve you need an environment where people can feel they need to invest. through other agencies and private donors to get entrepreneurs together but the reality is until you establish borders and security and a high rule of law with transparency and corruption to
reinforce property rights and then to makebo investments and feel comfortabl comfortable, you will not see that economy rise or the living standards rise or people start to pe have the self-determination and better lives they have been talking about for a long time. so we have a real chance to do this but you have to come together. i've spoken to a lot of countries about supporting this and members of congress. weat will see. and we are very happy with the product they think it is in depth that what they see as a thoughtful effort and with commentary there's a lot of
people with opinions obviously but it's very easy to want to sound like a wise man and then talk about why this is hard for favorite quote from the middle east pessimist are were right the optimist is wrong but they drive the change. to say we want to help you and to figure out how to go forward instead of finding excuses to not move forward. and the reality of the
situation is getting more and more untenable. i showed up here two years ago but i was given the assignment to find aee solution between the two sides as a framework based on if it is executable and in both sides to be much better off. . >> ten years ago in a historic speech prime minister netanyahu outlined the call for a demilitarized palestinian state. those in the small land with goodio neighborly relations does that still apply in your view?
[laughter] . >> i'm sure you will write something. [laughter] [applause] . >> and during the election campaign to begin the process of the annexation of israeli territory and what is the administration's view on israeli annexation of the west bank? have you told this to the prime minister crack. >> i have not discussed this. and then giving them space to do that but once there is a
government we will start engaging in the process. and then to look at the israeli and palestinian side. to see if this is a pathway for a better future. >> is it a fair statement to say that one can have unilateral annexation or a negotiated solution but not both? . >> one thing i saw early on is there was a lot of issues coming up every day. so to hear i do this or that to say we are not in the rabbit chasing business.
our job is to find a solution. and what is symptoms of the disease. and with the role that weo play. and it can cure the disease and then the symptoms goom away. and then we remind ourselves every day there is a thousand ways to fail we have tried hour best every day to make the right decisions to move forward to give ourselves the highest probability to make a difference and achieve a good outcome to a foyer decisions and situations that give us a pathway to achieve a bad outcome. . >> the smart money bet this is a problem that has been around
a long time but hoping we can change the barrett loan - - the paradigm for very seriously look at the facts and try to navigate away to allow people to be better off. . >> you use the metaphor curing the disease which is a high bar for success. so your definition, is it actually solving or resolving the problem as suggested? is that just to engage in what you propose? the lower bar of the states to say this is serious and worthy of discussion? what is a reasonable bar of success? . >> to be in washington with
this question? [laughter] i was not thinking about it that way. we were trying to solve a problem. and so my view is and what has been done in the past so i remember with the israeli negotiator so with this issue wide is the outcome? and to do this and i said we don't want to go to the history what about 2017? so the way to solve it to get
to people than for people and i said i don't want talk about process i just want to come up with an outcome. so it is tempting to get involved in the process and history and fighting about things that are not operational to people's lives. and why it is that appropriate process. and then to change the discussion so that approaches. >> and then to be original in your failure? [laughter] and how to do this in the intuitive way?
not from diplomacy or politics. so hopefully they think it is a serious proposal and then to lead to some breakthroughs. and then israel's security to be stronger and then find a pathway to come together of the previously divides. . >> just on that equation israeli security to be secured come israeli lives to be better, is it not unreasonable for a palestinian for that equation to say where is my political aspiration?
however i do find that? is it reasonable? i just don't hear that in the equation of my life being better with israeli security being secure. >> the average palestinian doesn't have faith in their government or their neighbors. and then to be at a place what or who to believe. it is an unfortunate situation a lot of palestinians kicked out of the arab countries arab countries who care about them don't take them into their countries when they were refugees.
there is a twisted history with the current situation with hamas and gaza driving the place into the ground and they are hostages to a terror organization which is unfortunate. and west bank they are pretty repressed and the question if the leadership is looking for their interest or not. their political aspirations are important and then to address their dignity. they are at a point they cannot live the life they deserve because this has screwed that up for them. and we think about that a lot. coming at this from the political's lens. and then to focus l on the palestinian people palestinian
business leaders what is it you are looking for? figuring out how to design something we think can be very acceptable and if the leadership has the courage to achieve that if they have that intent foror preservation we know what is in the plan and what is beneficial to both sides. as opposed to reaching out. and then to make different decisions over the last year or 20 years.
and then to put that out everyone has a fresh opportunity to engage to see what happens. who will be supported. who will not we have a lot of discussions but i hope people act rational to take what we put out and look at it for what it is andwh not what it is not in the based on that they push forward. but there isn't like a door that's been presented that has been taken away from them but that has been existed so we are justst being realistic and doing our best to have a lot
of opportunity. >> i go to laying out the plan but the rollout since we are getting into the details. [laughter] will it be a surprise will they read about it on the same day or are they briefed ahead of time or will you regard their input before the final final version is delivered? . >> to keep the details very close you know, that we have is because nothing has been leaked out which is a great asset.
and how we do that but all of our allies and partners and putting people in the position to be as supportive as possible. but what i do when we speak to them people who need to know know about it but those who don't toto do not. >> you said earlier the smart money is on no success. after all you hope to accomplish with every president since nixon or secretary of state kissinger has tried to do. the smart money is not on
success especially with a heart - - the high bar you have outlined which is the resolution of thee conflict. how do you factor into your thinking the implications of failure? that has its own set of outcomes and impacts. what about the potential implications of failure? . >> one thing that has been different being in washington that everyone in washington complains about the status quo but then when you try to put something in place to make something better than everybody goes crazy of all the things that could go g wrong and how they could get worse. but the reality of life if you want to make something better you have to take a risk it could get worse so our role is to figure out to mitigate the downside everything possible to achieve the upside.
so what we're doing here is telling the truth, dealing with reality and that usually leads to a better place. so we are pretty confident that success looks like c a lot of different things it can lead to closer cooperation maybe not bad if the situation is right now that i think that it has to move forward and not trying is a big problem. and i learned this in business meople in politics have a harder time doing nothing is a decision. but we don't realize that is acceptable - - acceptable but
that status quo is not the ideal situation with the pathways to make this better. >> just on this point on this wise or brilliant peace process and i paraphrase. [laughter] issuing the currentnt environment is a lose/lose proposition if they build upon a palestinian rejection to push for annexation it can drive a stake in the heart of relations while destroying the cooperation perhaps even the palestinian authority. is that a potential outcome? . >> it is so much easier to be a writer. [laughter] [applause]
. >> i spend my time focusing on the highestbi p probability path weco can take with a good eoutcome and to mitigate that outcome. and it's not like you face every day with a problem the good option with a bad option or this is the bad with a really bad option with these really tough problems where trying to assess that we inherit a lot of problems and again i admire the way the president and the national security team globally will we thought was a strategy for the environment. and the president says these are our different priorities with the national security
the president likes it that way and at the end of the day there's one decision-maker and that's the president. >> i wan >> i want to and with a couple of quick questions. the president has been involved beginning and there was an issue he wanted to see engaged with so one thing working with this president it's amazing because he definitely increased in thet sense that hes got so many different cabinet secretaries and officials working on so many different files say he's involved in the details and he's been pushing us and he is read a lot of parts of
it that the president has been involved in creating this and the strategy. this is one he does care about. >> lastly, t sometime before you go public i assume there would be an oval office meeting for a family dinner perhaps where the president turns to youka and ass what is your opinion is this going to be a winner i like winners, i hate losers. >> you try hard not to disappoint when you work for your father-in-law you can't disappoint. [laughter]
think i've established a good track record now i've come up with results and good advice and i do think that this is something he will be proud of nand we will be elevating the discussion and i think that when you are in the white house the biggest mistake is to not try to solve hard problems. hest minute we got a deal and then the same among criminal justice why do you think you can work on immigration. you are supposed to try to solve hard to solve problems.
what's the political calculus on thisis or that. this is what i think is right or wrong. i do think this is something the president will be proud of and something that hopefully the community will look at and pepeople should root for this to succeed and want this to succe succeed. you will gain a lot more than you gave and it is how to make deals and compromise is important and that is a noble thing so i think the president will lay out a framework that is