• Washington Post

How Trump Advanced Arab-Israeli Peace But Fueled Palestinian Rage

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Trump hosts Netanyahu and other senior Israeli officials, including Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer, seated second from the left, at the White House in January 2020.

Donald Trump welcomed the Israeli ambassador to his glass-plated office on the 25th floor of Trump Tower and led off with a lofty question.

“So,” Trump asked, about a week after his upset victory in 2016, “you think we can make peace?”

The ambassador, Ron Dermer, answered with a question of his own: “With whom?”

To Trump, who a former adviser said was enamored with the idea of winning the Nobel Peace Prize, his meaning was clear. He was referring to the Palestinians, locked in a decades-long conflict with Israel over land and statehood whose resolution he thought would earn him international acclaim.

Dermer was blunt. “No,” he told the president-elect. “But we can make peace with several Arab states.”

The exchange, recounted recently by Dermer on a podcast hosted by Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson and confirmed by another person with knowledge of the meeting, began a dramatic shift in American policy toward the Middle East.

The transformation yielded the 2020 Abraham Accords, a set of treaties negotiated at Trump’s behest that normalized relations between Israel and four Arab states: the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco. The negotiations occurred outside of standard diplomatic channels and broke with long-standing foreign policy consensus treating peace with the Palestinians as a condition for Israel’s more thorough integration with the Arab world, building on ties that previously existed only with Egypt and Jordan.

The accords, finalized in the twilight of the Trump administration, hang over the Hamas attack of Oct. 7, which killed about 1,200 Israelis, and the ensuing war in Gaza, a deadly campaign arousing international outrage against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

The accords were perhaps Trump’s signature foreign policy achievement. Yet the diplomatic process they set in motion – especially the prospect of Saudi participation – contributed to Palestinian alienation that hastened the attack by Hamas, say current and former American, Israeli and Arab officials. And the attack, in turn, is now testing whether normal Israeli-Arab relations can hold.

The Abraham Accords represented “one of the reasons” for the Oct. 7 attack, which “obstructed and complicated all strategies and agreements … that deny the freedom and dignity of the Palestinian people,” said Abbas Zaki, a member of the Central Committee of Fatah, the political faction that controls the Palestinian Authority. The attack, he added in an interview, “put the Palestinian issue back on the international agenda.”

The strategies that spawned the Abraham Accords shed light on how Trump might manage the intensifying crisis in the Middle East if voters return him to power: with strong ties to Israeli interests but, in place of President Biden’s ideological commitment to the Jewish state, a transactional approach to foreign affairs that opens the way for unpredictable alliances and accommodations.

In particular, the making of the accords shows how Trump used his vast powers over foreign affairs when he was in the White House: with impatience, self-interest and deference to his son-in-law Jared Kushner, a former real estate investor and media executive who once told another Trump adviser that the Middle East portfolio resembled a real estate deal, according to a person familiar with the remark. That person, like some others interviewed for this story, spoke on the condition of anonymity to reveal confidential discussions.

A spokeswoman for Kushner declined to comment. But a person involved in the efforts said Kushner believes he broke a stalemate in Arab-Israeli relations while preserving the possibility of a two-state solution by holding Israel off from annexing vast swaths of the West Bank. In Kushner’s view, these outcomes were only possible because of his unconventional approach to the region, drawing on business ties and his own broad research. A spokesman for Trump did not respond to questions.

Brokered by Kushner, the Abraham Accords came about in secret, separate from established State Department procedures and instead enabled by affluent associates of the president and his family. Trump himself had little involvement in the discussions and at times seemed unenthusiastic about the breakthrough because it fell short of his aspirations for Middle East peace, according to former American officials.

His hawkish aides filled the void. They rallied Sunni countries that felt increasingly threatened by Shiite-led Iran. And they exploited a growing disconnect between Arab populations committed to the Palestinian cause and their dynastic rulers who perceived greater benefits from coalition-building with Israel and its Western allies.

“It’s not like any of these countries read Herzl and decided they had to change their ways,” David Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, said in an interview, referring to Theodor Herzl, the founder of political Zionism. “All of these countries wanted something from America.”

Part of what Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s wealthiest country, clearly wants after Oct. 7 is a pathway to a Palestinian state. That public demand, as a condition for normal relations with Israel, departs from the logic of the Abraham Accords even as it builds on the momentum of normalization set in motion under Trump. It also threatens to put the United States on a collision course with Netanyahu, who has said he opposes any postwar plan that includes a Palestinian state.

The outcome of the November election will determine how Washington charts this course and manages the mixed legacy of the Abraham Accords, whose significance is evident even to Trump’s fiercest critics but whose shortcomings are now also clearer than ever.

“I think the Abraham Accords were incredibly important, but this disaster that we’re living through is a reminder that you cannot secure Israel simply through diplomatic work with Sunni nation-states,” said Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a Democratic member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Netanyahu, working with Trump’s White House, “was under the belief that they could beat the Palestinian cause into submission,” Murphy added. “I think we are living with the consequences of the failure of that policy.”

Family diplomacy

When Trump won the presidency in 2016, he had not been schooled in foreign affairs and knew little about the long-running Middle East peace process, according to former aides and associates. He was unfamiliar, for instance, with the vision set forth in the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, which offered normal relations to Israel in exchange for its withdrawal to pre-1967 borders, allowing the Palestinians to form an independent state.

For years, the Saudi-inspired initiative guided American policy, summed up by then-Secretary of State John F. Kerry not long after Trump hosted Dermer at his gleaming Manhattan skyscraper. As Kerry prepared to exit government in December 2016, he vowed, “There will be no advance and separate peace with the Arab world without the Palestinian process and Palestinian peace.”

Trump’s views on the matter were less firm. But he was interested in the idea of winning the Nobel Peace Prize because President Barack Obama had won it, a former aide said, and thought the Israeli-Palestinian conflict afforded him a chance.

He found a procession of donors and diplomats eager to educate him. Interlocutors included not just Dermer, the Israeli ambassador, but also Isaac Perlmutter, the Israeli American billionaire and former head of Marvel Entertainment, and Henry Kissinger, the late former U.S. secretary of state and national security adviser, according to the former Trump aide. Perlmutter didn’t respond to a request for comment through intermediaries.

During these discussions, Trump conceptualized barriers to peace as a series of “stumbling blocks,” the former aide said. Among them was the status of the U.S. Embassy in Israel, which Sheldon Adelson, the late casino magnate and Republican megadonor, wanted him to move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The president-elect soon found a simpler way of managing the Middle East portfolio: entrusting it to his son-in-law.

Kushner, an Orthodox Jew, enjoyed family and business connections to important players in the region. He had first met Netanyahu years earlier when his father, a developer and major donor to Jewish causes, hosted the future prime minister at the family’s home in New Jersey, as Kushner wrote in his 2022 book “Breaking History: A White House Memoir.” Netanyahu stayed in the young Kushner’s bedroom while Kushner bunked in the basement.

During the campaign, Kushner became acquainted with Dermer through a Time Warner executive, according to a person familiar with the introduction. They were predisposed to get along: Dermer, a staunch Netanyahu ally who clashed with the Obama administration over the 2015 Iran deal and other regional issues, had said in remarks at an alumni dinner in 2014 that he chose to attend the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School after reading Trump’s book “The Art of the Deal.”

Kushner’s networks reached beyond Israel. New York investor Rick Gerson, a Kushner friend who vacationed with the Emirati ruling family, introduced him during the transition to the Emirati leader Mohamed bin Zayed and his national security adviser, according to a person familiar with the matter, who said Gerson is not a Trump supporter.

Thomas J. Barrack Jr., a billionaire private equity investor and Trump friend who is of Lebanese descent, separately introduced Kushner to Yousef Al Otaiba, the high-profile Emirati ambassador in Washington, among other Persian Gulf officials including Qatar’s emir, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani. Barrack was acquitted in 2022 of covertly acting as an Emirati agent.

According to Kushner, ruling families in the region greeted him with open arms.

“In the Arab world, politics is a family business, with members of royal families ruling for generations,” Kushner wrote in his memoir. “As the son-in-law of the president, and a former executive of a family business, I represented something that they found familiar and reassuring.”

Dry run

Trump’s maiden voyage as president, in May 2017, was to the Middle East – to Saudi Arabia, Israel and then on to the West Bank, which is governed by the Palestinian Authority.

Kushner took a solo trip to the region the following month. Afterward, he wrote in his memoir, he began working on a peace plan.

During a conclave near the Red Sea, Kushner later recounted, Emirati and Saudi leaders told him he could transform regional dynamics by securing Israeli buy-in for a plan that included a Palestinian state. If the Palestinians rejected that plan, the gulf officials advised him, they would be open to alternative approaches, according to Kushner’s account.

As Kushner’s peace plan took shape, several events over the next two years frayed the White House’s relationship with Palestinian leaders.

The first was a row in July 2017 over Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque. The mosque is part of the site known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims and as the Temple Mount to Jews, and it’s a perennial flash point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian outcry that followed Israel’s decision to fit the mosque’s gates with metal detectors – after two Israeli officers were killed in a shooting at the compound – led Friedman, the ambassador to Israel, to advise Trump not to hold out hope of working with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.

“I told Trump, ‘You’re not going to make a deal with him. Not with this guy,’” Friedman recalled in an interview. “‘Deal with other Arab countries.’”

Then, in December, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and began a process of relocating the U.S. Embassy, breaking with decades of American policy that sought to preserve East Jerusalem as the capital of a future Palestinian state. The move, a priority for the president’s right-wing base, enraged the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which broke off communications with the White House.

With that decision, Trump would soon acknowledge, he undercut Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. “I took probably the biggest chip off the table,” he said in a joint appearance with Netanyahu at the United Nations. Right away, he resented that Netanyahu didn’t show more gratitude or reciprocate when Washington made concessions. “Bibi, I think you are the problem,” he told the prime minister during a phone call before the announcement, according to Kushner’s memoir.

In spring 2019, Trump forfeited another chip, saying the United States would recognize Israeli authority over a hilly expanse known as the Golan Heights, seized by Israel during the 1967 war. Trump later explained to donors at a gathering of the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas that he made the decision, a boon to Netanyahu on the eve of a bitterly contested Israeli election, after a quick history lesson from his aides.

“I got a lot of things I’m working on,” Trump recalled telling his advisers, saying he instructed them, “Give me a quickie.”

Protests and violent clashes followed the embassy move, but Trump’s advisers were emboldened when neither decision sparked the kind of widespread conflict feared by some experts. His advisers felt they could flout diplomatic orthodoxy and test Palestinian leaders, whom they viewed as corrupt and incapable of representing various factions in the West Bank and Gaza, according to former American officials.

One former senior official, assessing why the White House was comfortable bypassing the Palestinians in brokering the Abraham Accords, said, “Moving the embassy was the dry run.”

Meanwhile, the Emiratis – who had branded 2019 the “Year of Tolerance” and hosted Pope Francis for the first-ever visit by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula – were making their interests clearer to Trump’s White House. When Robert C. O’Brien, Trump’s hostage envoy and later national security adviser, visited the Emirati leader early that year to thank him for his country’s role in securing the release of an American hostage in Yemen, Mohamed stressed his need for weapons to keep Iran in check, according to a person familiar with the meeting.

John Rakolta Jr., Trump’s ambassador to the Emirates, made a similar case to the president once he was confirmed later in 2019. “How can I help you?” Rakolta, a construction executive, recalled Trump asking him. Rakolta replied that the president could help get Abu Dhabi a briefing on American F-35 fighter jets, which the Emiratis wanted to purchase.

In the living room of Kushner’s Washington mansion the same year, Al Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador, told the president’s son-in-law that his country was ready to normalize its relations with Israel, Kushner later recounted. The two countries enjoyed significant, though mostly clandestine, associations, according to former American and Israeli officials, but no formal relations of the sort established with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. “They treated Israel like a mistress,” said a former Israeli official.

Kushner was elated, he wrote. When Netanyahu expressed doubt that the Emiratis were serious, the president’s son-in-law told him, “Trust me.”

Peace plan

The Abraham Accords emerged from the collapse of Trump’s initial plan for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

That plan had two parts. The first was an economic component seeking to drum up investments for the Palestinians at a 2019 conference in Bahrain, an island kingdom connected by a causeway to Saudi Arabia. The location came on the advice of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia, according to former American officials, who said Riyadh views Bahrain as a testing ground for initiatives it’s considering.

When the proposal was briefed to Mohammed, the powerful crown prince remarked that it “looked like the work of a hundred McKinsey consultants,” according to Kushner’s memoir. The Palestinian Authority boycotted the conference.

The plan’s political component, unveiled in early 2020, promised to recognize Israeli settlements considered illegal by much of the world while envisioning a disjointed Palestinian state under conditions that the Palestinian Authority instantly rejected. Trump, who cast the plan as a “win-win opportunity,” was joined at the White House by a beaming Netanyahu, who promised that Israel would “apply its laws” to territories “that your plan designates as part of Israel.”

A miscommunication allowed Netanyahu to go further than the White House wanted. The previous night, the prime minister and several aides had gathered with Kushner and others at Blair House, the presidential guesthouse.

The meeting didn’t begin until around midnight. The discussion, about how quickly Israel could formally extend its authority over parts of the West Bank, was tense, according to participants. And it concluded without a clear consensus, they said, about whether annexation would proceed immediately or only in tandem with Israeli concessions.

But immediate annexation was the plan proclaimed by Netanyahu the next day. Kushner was furious, according to former American officials. Trump, for his part, was annoyed by Netanyahu’s long speech, these officials said, and more drawn to Benny Gantz, a three-star general and Netanyahu’s main opponent in upcoming elections. In a meeting on the sidelines of the announcement, Gantz seemed more ideologically flexible and willing to cut deals, according to Trump advisers.

Friedman, the U.S. ambassador, supported Netanyahu’s approach but was nonetheless dispatched to avert immediate annexation, according to former officials. Kushner, meanwhile, tasked a committee with creating a more detailed map of the areas Israel could annex. A coalition agreement signed by Netanyahu and Gantz after inconclusive March elections allowed the prime minister to move forward with annexation beginning July 1.

As that date drew near, Trump aides convened to figure out an approach. The president was impatient – distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and his reelection campaign – and suggested that his secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, should simply decide what Israel would be allowed to do.

At the end of June, Kushner’s top aide, Avi Berkowitz, who held the title of special representative for international negotiations, joined Friedman for a trio of meetings with Netanyahu, who had a large plexiglass barrier in his office to guard against the coronavirus, former officials said. Berkowitz sought to extract concessions for the Palestinians in exchange for American approval to annex about 13 percent of the West Bank, which would have included essentially all settlements, according to former officials. But Netanyahu’s proposals did not satisfy the White House, these officials said.

Berkowitz, 31 at the time, told the prime minister that Trump would tweet critically about him if he ignored American pressure and proceeded with annexation, according to a 2023 book by Axios reporter Barak Ravid titled “Trump’s Peace: The Abraham Accords and the Reshaping of the Middle East.”

“The president doesn’t really like you at the moment,” Berkowitz told Netanyahu, the book reported. Berkowitz declined to comment on the exchange. Netanyahu’s office did not respond.

Secret negotiations

On the last day of June 2020, Berkowitz put something else on the table: normalization.

Earlier that month, Al Otaiba, the long-serving Emirati ambassador in Washington, had published an op-ed in the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth warning against annexation. He wrote in no uncertain terms: “Israeli plans for annexation and talk of normalization are a contradiction.”

Al Otaiba had been advised to appeal directly to the Israeli people, in Hebrew, by Haim Saban, an Israeli American billionaire and Democratic donor. Saban, in an interview, said his view was, “Don’t go in and twist the arm of the Israeli government, but help them understand that the Israeli people would support normalization for no annexation.”

Saban had an independent relationship with Kushner, forged, ironically, during the 2016 campaign, when Saban helped raise millions of dollars for Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid. During that election cycle, someone at Saban’s foundation discovered an old letter from Kushner praising the businessman’s philanthropic work. Saban proposed a meeting. He recalled telling Kushner: “You’re Trump, I’m Hillary. Let’s talk.”

Saban commended Kushner for his work on the Abraham Accords, but had harsh words for Trump. He said the president’s son-in-law used the same approach that had worked with the Golan Heights: “Jared, who is very savvy, understood the importance of this, and gave Trump, in Trump’s own words, ‘a quickie.’”

Berkowitz returned from Israel to a call from Al Otaiba, who had gotten an earful from Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, about his op-ed and the pressure it put on the Israeli government, according to people familiar with the matter. Spokespeople for Al Otaiba and Dermer declined to comment.

The Emirati ambassador came to the White House the next day to begin negotiations and provided a normalization offer in writing on July 5, parts of which were shared with the Israelis, according to Kushner’s memoir.

Kushner and Berkowitz played go-between for the two countries during six weeks of negotiations. One of the few career officials closely involved in the process was a former U.S. Army infantry brigade commander and longtime expert on Israeli settlements who had advised the mapping effort that year. “I’d always have him in the room because he would represent the Palestinian perspective, because we had a bunch of Orthodox Jews and we tried to be impartial,” Kushner said in a recent podcast interview.

Otherwise, said one former official involved in brokering the accords, “Not one State Department diplomat was involved.”

That suited the Israelis just fine. With Trump’s team, said Meir Ben Shabbat, Israel’s national security adviser from 2017 to 2021, “I felt like I was within a family.”

Israel wanted guarantees that it would maintain military superiority in the region, said a person familiar with the matter. Further, Netanyahu requested normalization agreements with more than one country, a demand that Washington said it could not meet right away, according to former American officials.

Kushner, meanwhile, received an assurance from Netanyahu that he would hold off on annexation not just in the short term but for five years, according to a person familiar with the agreement, which the person said was never memorialized beyond word of mouth. Netanyahu’s office didn’t respond to a question about that pledge.

‘Partners in changing the world’

A coterie of Trump appointees and high-level aides gathered in the Oval Office on Aug. 13 for the deal’s announcement. Among them were Berkowitz and Friedman; Iran envoy Brian Hook; and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, whom Kushner called a “rock-solid friend and ally.”

Miguel Correa, a two-star general serving on Trump’s National Security Council, proposed a name for the normalization agreement that morning, according to former officials. Correa, whose close ties to Emirati leaders had made him an important interlocutor during the negotiations, suggested the name Abraham, after the patriarch of Judaism, Islam and Christianity.

Trump called the Israeli and Emirati leaders and conducted a congratulatory conversation over speakerphone, according to people present. It was only during the course of the call, as the two leaders thanked him, that he understood the significance of the breakthrough, these people said. “He still wanted Jared to bring him Middle East peace,” one person said.

After the call, Trump addressed reporters in the Oval Office, saying, “Not since the Israel-Jordan peace treaty was signed more than 25 years ago has so much progress been made toward peace in the Middle East.” A four-page “treaty of peace” between Israel and the Emirates promised a “full normalization of bilateral ties,” envisioning the exchange of ambassadors and cooperation in sectors such as energy, education and the environment, but also tourism, culture and sports.

That night, Al Otaiba and Berkowitz dined at Kushner’s home. “We were now partners in changing the world,” Kushner wrote in his memoir.

In the region, the reaction was divided. Israel Hayom, the widely distributed newspaper owned by Adelson’s family, hailed a “new Middle East,” while al-Hayat al-Jadida, run by the Palestinian Authority, denounced “tripartite aggression against the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The participation of the three other Abraham Accords countries fell into place quickly. Bahrain’s finance minister called the White House that day asking to be next. An agreement was concluded within a month.

Israel had long proposed Sudan and Morocco as candidates for normalization, according to a former Israeli official, and those countries followed – with the United States dropping Sudan from a list of state sponsors of terrorism and recognizing Moroccan control over the disputed Western Sahara.

Israel’s role was minimal. Officials in Jerusalem were told about the Morocco deal one day before it was announced on Dec. 10, 2020, according to people familiar with the timing.

Some argue that the impact of the Abraham Accords has been overstated. Unlike Egypt and Jordan, the parties to the accords were never in a hot war with Israel. On the contrary, some were already cooperating on a range of issues, said Omar Rahman, a fellow at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs.

“A formal relationship comes with more costs,” Rahman said. “There are reputational costs, both within their own publics and in the broader region, to recognizing a 56-year-old occupier of another people.”

Reputational worries had receded in the minds of gulf leaders, according to former American officials. “It was obvious to us going all over the region that the State Department cared more about Palestinians than Arab leadership does,” said one former senior official.

Another person said gulf diplomats and former Trump officials attended a dinner in Washington after Trump left office where one of the diplomats remarked that the Palestinian cause is of greater importance on American college campuses than it is in Arab countries.

Stress test

That may be a skewed portrait of public opinion.

Surveys show that even before Oct. 7, many Arabs already held a negative view of the Abraham Accords. Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has deepened their disapproval, according to Arab officials and experts. After war broke out, Bahraini and Israeli ambassadors returned to their respective countries, according to the Bahrain News Agency, and direct flights ceased.

Now, gulf leaders are nervous about the war’s continuation and the rising assertiveness of Iran, said a businessman in regular touch with royal families. They are puzzled about the direction of American and Israeli politics, this person said, and hedging their bets by forging closer ties with China and Russia – on energy, technology and security. “You have a larger Chinese penetration than I’ve ever seen,” the person said.

To advocates of the accords, their durability is nonetheless the primary lesson of the war, because relations haven’t broken down entirely. Side deals accompanying the accords – above all the proposed sale of F-35 fighter jets to the Emiratis – had already stalled before Oct. 7. Such setbacks prove the inherent value of normalization, some say, pointing to interfaith engagement, economic integration and security.

“They’re passing yet another stress test and surviving,” said Robert Greenway, who was senior director for Middle Eastern and North African affairs on Trump’s National Security Council and is now at the conservative Heritage Foundation.

But the price of any possible deal with the Saudis has risen. Those negotiations were underway when Trump left office in January 2021. The Saudi crown prince anticipated joining within six months, recalled two former American officials.

The Biden administration embraced the accords, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken promising to “build on the successful efforts of the last administration to keep normalization marching forward.” But President Biden initially voiced skepticism of Saudi Arabia, a country he once pledged to make a “pariah,” and the prospect of expansive U.S. security concessions accompanying the deal invited congressional scrutiny.

Even before Oct. 7, senior Saudi officials described progress toward a Palestinian state as a condition for peace with Israel – and have reiterated that position firmly in recent months. Riyadh has communicated the same terms to Washington privately, though discussions continue about what constitutes sufficient progress, said a U.S. official familiar with the talks.

Business ventures undertaken by architects of the accords have faced fewer headwinds. Kushner started a private equity firm, Affinity Partners, that obtained a $2 billion commitment from a sovereign wealth fund chaired by the Saudi crown prince, while also securing investments in the Emirates and Qatar, as the New York Times first reported. Kushner’s firm told regulators last year that it was managing over $3 billion in assets. Friedman, Trump’s ambassador to Israel, is a partner in the Mnuchin fund that has also raised money from the Saudis, according to people familiar with its operations.

The activity has prompted outcries from Democrats and nonpartisan watchdogs. A letter from the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee in 2022 told Kushner the panel was investigating “whether your personal financial interests improperly influenced U.S. foreign policy,” and another letter last year called for a subpoena to gather documents. An attorney for Kushner’s fund said, “Partisan politics aside, no one has ever pointed to a specific legal or ethical guideline that Jared or Affinity has violated.”

The concerns drew a shrug from Joe Lieberman, the former Democratic senator from Connecticut who serves on the honorary advisory council of Kushner’s nonprofit Abraham Accords Peace Institute.

“He didn’t work as hard as he did to bring about the accords so he could have business opportunities after,” Lieberman said.

Lieberman said he wouldn’t let partisanship diminish his support for the accords, which he called an “enormous achievement.”

By the same token, Barrack, the billionaire investor and Trump friend, had no qualms about noting limitations of the breakthrough.

“How can there be lasting peace between Israel and the Arabs if you permanently leave the Palestinians out of the room?” Barrack said.