Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of former President Donald Trump who led the previous administration’s efforts to negotiate peace in the Middle East, wrote Sunday that President Biden should build on Trump’s successes with the “strong hand” he inherited.
Contrary to the tone taken by the former president when discussing Biden, Kushner was complimentary of some of the Biden administration’s foreign policy moves in a Wall Street Journal op-ed published Sunday.
Kushner said that Biden is “rightly” making confronting China “a priority in its foreign policy,” but also implored the president to keep a focus on both building peace in the Middle East and being tough on Iran.
“While many were troubled by the Biden team’s opening offer to work with Europe and rejoin the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, I saw it as a smart diplomatic move,” Kushner wrote, while noting that Biden’s team has a much better rapport with Iran than Trump’s. “The Biden administration called Iran’s bluff. It revealed to the Europeans that the JCPOA is dead and only a new framework can bring stability for the future. When Iran asked for a reward merely for initiating negotiations, President Biden did the right thing and refused.”
Kushner continued to say that the United States holds a “strong hand” in its negotiations with Iran thanks to Trump’s policies and that Iran’s “economic situation is dire and it has no ability to sustain conflict or survive indefinitely under current sanctions.”
“America should be patient and insist that any deal include real nuclear inspections and an end to Iran’s funding of foreign militias,” Kushner said.
Biden ran on aiming to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran nuclear deal. Democrats have said it was a strong path forward to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. Republicans, meanwhile, called it a boondoggle that didn’t have effective enforcement mechanisms and ended up funding terrorism.
The Biden administration also recently revoked the terrorist designation of the Iran-backed Houthis, who are fighting Saudi-backed forces in Yemen, in a move that was also widely seen as an effort to build goodwill with Iran. That was criticized by Republicans.
“I haven’t seen any rational being stare at the Houthis and say these aren’t terrorists,” former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in an interview with Fox News last month.
But the U.S. under Biden has also flexed its military strength in the Middle East, including multiple times flying B-52 bombers through the region to “deter aggression and reassure partners and allies of the U.S. military’s commitment to security in the region.”
Biden nevertheless has not indicated that he intends to find an alternative to the JCPOA for a nuclear deal with Iran, despite Kushner’s interpretation of his administration’s actions.
Iranian dissidents recently described the regime as at its “weakest point” in its history, meaning that re-engagement with Iran could jeopardize the leverage the U.S. has over the country, they said.
At the same time, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said that re-engagement is conditional on Iran changing its behavior.
“The path to diplomacy is open right now. Iran is still a ways away from being in compliance [with the deal],” he said recently, according to Reuters. “So we’ll have to see what it does.”
Kushner’s op-ed also addressed the Abraham Accords and the improving relations between Israel and its Arab neighbors. He said that the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians is simply a “real-estate dispute” that “need not hold up Israel’s relations with the broader Arab world.”
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Stephen Sorace contributed to this report.
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