The State Department’s top official overseeing Middle East policy admitted on Tuesday that he didn’t know the contents of White House senior advisor Jared Kushner’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan — other than what he’d seen Kushner tell the media.
In a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East, Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker also revealed that his office wasn’t a part of shaping the proposal.
“Can you tell us what role your desk has played, or that you personally have played, in helping to draft this peace process?” asked committee chairman Rep. Ted Deutch.
“Um, none,” Schenker replied.
“But you’re aware of what’s in it?” Deutch asked.
“No,” Schenker said. He added that he’d seen public statements from Kushner on the subject.
Reuters reported earlier this year that only four people had complete access to the peace plan - Kushner, now-outgoing negotiator Jason Greenblatt, his deputy and now-replacement Avi Berkowitz, and United States ambassador to Israel David Friedman. President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had been briefed on the plan but were hands-off about going into the details, the report claimed.
Schenker joined the Trump administration in June after 13 years as a scholar at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The peace plan has been repeatedly delayed, most recently because of the uncertain results of the Israeli elections. The Palestinian leadership has boycotted Kushner’s efforts, including a conference in Bahrain in June, because they haven’t been consulted on the details and were opposed to the unilateral pro-Israel moves of the Trump administration like recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Kushner told Israel’s Channel 13 on Tuesday that he still hoped to release his plan, saying that it could be done before the 2020 American presidential elections if conditions are right.