Last week was a whirlwind with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson resigning and President Donald Trump fueling rumors of more internal shake-ups. So it was easy to miss when Jared Kushner, presidential adviser and son-in-law, led a highly unusual White House conference on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The participants of Kushner’s conference were quite notable including: Israel, alongside Arab states with which it does not have diplomatic relations, such as Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. On the other hand, the Palestinians, who have been boycotting Trump since his announcement that the U.S. will have an embassy in Jerusalem, failed to show up.
The conference was a huge success and it embodied the success of the Kushner team’s basic strategy and also the challenge of making it work in the face of setbacks.
Kushner has mostly handled the Israel-Palestine question by treating it as a small part of the whole broader regional realignment of Sunni states plus Israel against Shiite Iran. The president’s son-in-law has put a lazar focus on Saudi Arabia, which has suggested that it’s willing to warm up ties to Israel if peace can actually be established.
Other negotiators in the past have sought to regionalize the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Kushner has gotten further than any of his predecessors on this front.