REPORTER: Do you see a world where the Israelis and Palestinians can coexist peacefully?
KUSHNER: I really hope so. A lot of people tell me that this can never happen because there is a lot of distrust and hatred that comes from years of conflict and people using politics to blame the hardships of life on others. There have been wars, conflicts, demonstrations, acts of terrorism and more. This is not exactly a solid foundation on which you can build coexistence and peace.
However, I am an optimist and I have met so many people and also have seen so many examples of Israelis and Palestinians reaching out to each other and trying to forge bonds to try and circumvent a failed political process. These people know their lives will only be improved by working out the issues and moving on. So yes, there is a lot of hatred and a lot of scar tissue, but I do not underestimate humankind’s ability to love. To be successful, we must be willing to forgive in the present, not forget the past, but work hard towards a brighter future.
REPORTER: You clearly are very focused on improving the economic circumstances of the Palestinian people — what about the traditional core issues?
KUSHNER: The traditional core issues are essential and we focus on them extensively with a strong appreciation of the historic differences between the two sides. We are committed to finding a package of solutions that both sides can live with. Simply resolving core issues without creating a pathway to a better life will not lead to a durable solution.
REPORTER: Finally, if you could deliver a message directly to the Palestinian people, what would it be?
KUSHNER: You deserve to have a bright future. Now is a time where both the Israelis and Palestinians must bolster and refocus their leadership, to encourage them to be open towards a solution and to not be afraid of trying. There have been countless mistakes and missed opportunities over the years, and you, the Palestinian people, have paid the price.
Show your leadership that you support efforts to achieve peace. Let them know your priorities and give them the courage to keep an open mind towards achieving them. Don’t let your leadership reject a plan they haven’t even seen. A lot has happened in the world since this conflict began decades ago. The world has moved forward while you have been left behind.
Don’t allow your grandfather’s conflict to determine your children’s future. My dream is for the Israeli and Palestinian people to be the closest of allies in combating terror, economic achievement, advancements in science and technology, and in sharing a lifestyle of brotherhood, peace and prosperity.