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Kushner and 3 Trump-Era Officials Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, his deputy, Avi Berkowitz, as well as former U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer, have been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for their roles in negotiating four normalization deals between Israel and Arab nations.

Attorney Alan Dershowitz, professor emeritus of Harvard Law School, nominated the four Trump-era officials on Jan. 31 for their roles in negotiating the deals, known as the Abraham Accords.

“These Accords, which have brought about normalization between Israel and several Sunni Arab nations, fulfill all the criteria for the prize,” Dershowitz wrote in his nomination letter, as cited by the Jerusalem Post.

“They hold the promise of an even broader peace in the Middle East between Israel, the Palestinians and other Arab nations. They are a giant step forward in bringing peace and stability to the region, and even to the world,” he wrote.

The normalization deals were announced in a four-month span between mid-August and mid-December 2020 and were lauded by many as the most significant diplomatic breakthroughs in the Middle East in 25 years as the region girds for a prolonged confrontation with Iran.

President Trump Hosts Abraham Accords Signing Ceremony On White House South Lawn
(L–R) Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, U.S. President Donald Trump, Foreign Affairs Minister of Bahrain Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, and Foreign Affairs Minister of the United Arab Emirates Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan wave from the Truman Balcony of the White House after the signing ceremony of the Abraham Accords on the South Lawn of the White House on Sept. 15, 2020. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Iran tensions remain high, with former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying in a speech at the National Press Club in mid-January that the al-Qaeda terrorist group has a new headquarters there.

“Al-Qaeda has a new home base, it is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” said Pompeo. “As a result, [Osama] bin Laden’s wicked creation is poised to gain strength and capabilities.”

“We ignore this Iran-al-Qaeda nexus at our own peril. We need to acknowledge it, we must confront it. Indeed, we must defeat it,” he said, adding that “this axis poses a grave threat to the security of nations and to the American homeland itself.”

The Abraham Accords have been hailed as enabling a more responsive strategic posture with respect to the threat posed by Iran.

“The recent Abraham Accords between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain both reflect and augur a growing strategic alignment between Israel and key American partners in the Middle East, driven primarily by the worsening Iranian nuclear and regional threats,” the Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA), a pro-Israel think tank based in Washington, said in a statement.

President Trump Announces Bahrain Will Establish Diplomatic Relations With Israel
(L-R): Treasure Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Vice President Mike Pence, President Donald Trump, and adviser Jared Kushner, speak in the Oval Office to announce that Bahrain will establish diplomatic relations with Israel, at the White House on Sept. 11, 2020. (Anna Moneymaker-Pool/Getty Images)

In a November 2020 report (pdf), JINSA urged the Trump administration to further strengthen its efforts to contain Iran by moving Israel to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility from the U.S European Command area of responsibility, which the Pentagon did on Jan. 15.

“It also could enable Israel, U.S. forces in the Middle East, and Arab partners to begin or deepen regional cooperation on missile defense, exercises, strategic planning, intelligence sharing, and other critical military activities,” JINSA said in a statement explaining the rationale for moving Israel to CENTCOM, while noting in its report that the move would bolster Israel’s ability to defend U.S. and Arab partners’ interests by “continuing to be the tip of [the] spear against Iran and its proxies.”

Kushner, who is former President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, and Berkowitz, who was the Middle East envoy, were key figures in negotiating deals between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco.

Dershowitz, in his letter to the Nobel committee, said he wanted to “emphasize the enormous contributions to peace made by Jared Kushner, Avrahm Berkowitz, David Friedman, and Ron Dermer,” saying that “these men played especially important roles,” in the peace deals.

“Kushner and Berkowitz traveled all over the region, meeting with leaders and their associates, advocating for peace and nailing down all the details,” Dershowitz wrote.

In a statement, Kushner said he was honored to be nominated for the prize, which will be awarded in October.

President Joe Biden’s administration is expected to review all national security deals struck during the Trump administration, including arms packages for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Reuters contributed to this report.