The Trump administration has announced a replacement for departing Middle East peace plan point man Jason Greenblatt. His choice is raising many eyebrows and voices, claiming that the new person in the position, Avi Berkowitz, is not qualified for the post.
Former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk shared his concerns on Twitter, saying that while Berkowitz, 29, and a recent law school graduate seemed amicable, he was in no way the right person to be the architect for peace in the Mideast.
“If Avi Berkowitz is @jdgreenblatt45’s replacement it’s a considerable downgrade in the position. He is Kushner’s 29-year-old assistant. Nice guy but does not have the weight or experience of Trump’s former real estate lawyer.”
Bess Levin, a writer for Vanity Fair, took a harsher approach, referring to Berkowitz as Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner’s “coffee boy” who has scored the ultimate promotion by taking on subjects like control of the West Bank and Palestinian statehood.
Berkowitz’s predecessor, Jason Greenblatt, had more than twenty years as a real estate lawyer negotiating complicated contracts for the Trump organization. He had the respect of the majority of those in power. Meanwhile, working as Kushner’s assistant was Berkowitz’s first job after finishing law school.
White House mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt was a strong voice on the world stage for America and for the cause of peace, freedom & democracy. When the UN Human Rights Council tried to shut us down, he rose to our defense. We commend his outstanding service & wish him well. pic.twitter.com/5ZIi3jQxv3— UN Watch (@UNWatch) September 6, 2019
Greenblatt resigned from his post in the Trump White House after Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” economic proposal got a chilly reception from experts, and Palestinian leadership boycotted the peace conference in Bahrain this past summer.
Daniel Kurtzer, the former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush barely gave the plan a passing grade on Twitter.
“I would give this so-called plan a C- from an undergraduate student. The authors of the plan clearly understand nothing.”
And Michael Koplow, policy director of the Israel Policy Forum, said that obviously his expectations weren’t low enough, likening Kushner’s plan to “the Monty Python sketch of Israeli-Palestinian peace initiatives.”
Past descriptions from White House staff members like Hope Hicks described Berkowitz’s role with Kushner as “administrative” and “involved “assisting Kushner with daily logistics like getting coffee or coordinating meetings.”
Also joining the team to achieve peace in the Middle East will be the State Department’s special representative for Iran, Brian Hook, who will become “more involved in the process,” according to the Trump administration. However, this appointment isn’t quelling the concerns of experts like Indyk, who is also a former U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations under President Bill Clinton, and who is now the executive vice president at the Brookings Institution, who suggests that at this time, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo should take over the negotiations rather than Berkowitz.