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- After laying low for several months, Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner made waves in the international arena by opening the new US embassy in Jerusalem on Monday.
- Critics say the couple’s role in the impactful and deeply controversial move is inappropriate given their lack of diplomatic experience.
- “We don’t have Princes and princesses in America,” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt said.
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner have long been a controversial presence in President Donald Trump’s orbit.
But the couple, who officially serve as two of the president’s most senior White House advisers, had flown somewhat under the radar over the last couple of months as White House chief of staff John Kelly reportedly imposed limits on their expansive portfolios after downgrading Kushner’s top secret security clearance in February.
But on Monday, the first daughter and her husband made waves at home and abroad by representing the Trump administration at the controversial opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Kushner, an Orthodox Jew whose family has long been close with Israel’s prime minister, has led the administration’s Middle East policy despite his limited access to classified information and lack of any prior diplomatic or political experience.
Critics slammed the couple’s role in the embassy opening as many pointed to the split-screen reality of Israeli soldiers opening fire on Palestinian protesters – at least 58 of whom have been killed while attempting to storm the border – while just 50 miles away the Trump administration heralded the embassy relocation as a step toward regional peace. Monday was the deadliest day for Palestinians since Israel’s 2014 invasion of Gaza.
— Kenneth Roth (@KenRoth) May 14, 2018
Steve Schmidt, a longtime GOP strategist who ran Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, called Kushner and Ivanka’s role in the embassy unveil “outlandish.”
“They have no business and no rank to be speaking for the country at a geopolitical flash point,” he tweeted Monday. “We don’t have Princes and princesses in America.”
Michelle Greenberg, a liberal New York Times columnist, also compared the couple’s influence to that of members of a royal family, calling Ivanka “a Zionist Marie Antoinette.”
Schmidt added that Kushner’s inability to access top secret information should disqualify him from leading the administration’s policymaking in the Middle East.
The New York Daily News featured a photo of Ivanka speaking at the event beside an image of violence in Gaza on its front page on Tuesday with the headline, “Daddy’s Little Ghoul.”
In an unexplained move, the White House appeared to remove a controversial remark Kushner made about the Palestinian protests in the administration’s official transcript of his rare address, which was broadcast internationally.
Kushner’s comment that, “as we have seen from the protests of the last month, and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” was omitted from the transcript.
Israel’s continued use of lethal force against the largely unarmed demonstrators has been met with condemnation from the United Nations, human rights groups, and key US allies, including the UK, France, and Germany. Amnesty International called Israel’s use of live ammunition “an abhorrent violation of international law & human rights,” and the UN’s human rights commissioner said Tuesday that Israel does not have “sufficient grounds for the use of live ammunition.”
But the White House is standing behind Israel and blamed the violence on Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group.