Jared Kushner briefed incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan on the Trump administration’s policies in the Middle East, said David Friedman, the outgoing US ambassador to Israel, at a closed-door hearing in the Israeli parliament on Monday.
Why it matters: Friedman said Kushner had briefed Sullivan in particular on the process of the Abraham Accords, through which four Arab states had normalized relations with Israel, according to lawmakers present at the hearing. Trump’s advisers hope President-elect Biden will continue this process and encourage other countries such as Saudi Arabia to join.
News drive: The call came about two weeks ago, days before Kushner traveled to Saudi Arabia for a Gulf summit. It is unclear whether Kushner brought a message from Sullivan to any of the leaders.
- White House envoy Avi Berkowitz has also briefed a former Obama administration official who may be in line for work on Biden̵
- According to Israeli lawmakers attending Monday’s briefing, Friedman said he had recently met with his Obama-era predecessor, Dan Shapiro, and briefed him on the Trump administration’s work in the Middle East over the past four years. During the meeting, Shapiro made it clear to Friedman that he was not part of Biden’s transition team.
Behind the scenes: Friedman presented the Knesset’s foreign affairs committee with his thoughts on what the Biden administration will do and should do with regard to Israel and the region, say the deputies present at the briefing.
- Friedman said Biden was a friend of Israel. He also said he expected the Biden administration to put pressure on Israel over the West Bank settlement, resume aid to the Palestinian Authority and continue to boost Israel’s ties with China, an issue Friedman said Israel should take more seriously.
Friedman also told Biden he will probably try to revive the nuclear deal with Iran.
- He was particularly concerned about the influence of former Secretary of State John Kerry and former national security adviser Susan Rice on Biden’s Iranian policy, despite the fact that neither will work on Iran’s portfolio, an Israeli lawmaker said.
- Friedman said Israel should not seek an immediate confrontation with Biden over Iran, but should instead ask the Biden administration to enter into dialogue with Israel, the United Arab Emirates and other Arab countries before deciding to return the nuclear deal.
Not surprisingly, Friedman said Biden shouldn’t to bring back Trump’s policies on Jerusalem or Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights. He also claims that the battle with Israel for settlements will lead nowhere.
- Friedman said Saudi Arabia would recognize Israel within a year if Trump won the re-election.
- But he criticized his boss, saying Trump’s relationship with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was sometimes “too warm” and that Biden would be more critical of Turkey.
Go deeper: Netanyahu insists on full control over Israeli Iranian policy, causing repulsion.