Jared Kushner, Avi Berkowitz nominated for Nobel Peace Prize for Israel deals

Jared Kushner (centre) and his deputy Avi Berkowitz (left) are seen with former US envoy to Iran Brian Hook during a press briefing at the White House on Aug 13, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and his deputy, Mr Avi Berkowitz, were nominated on Sunday (Jan 31) for the Nobel Peace Prize for their role in negotiating four normalisation deals between Israel and Arab nations known as the "Abraham Accords."

Nominating the pair of former deputies to then-President Donald Trump was American attorney Alan Dershowitz, who was eligible to do so in his capacity as a professor emeritus of Harvard Law School.

Prof Dershowitz had defended Mr Trump in his first impeachment trial last year and said in a Jan 20 comment in the Wall Street Journal that the Senate should dismiss the article of impeachment against Mr Trump over the Jan 6 storming of the US Capitol as he is no longer president.

In his letter to the Nobel committee, Prof Dershowitz also cited the work of former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and former Israeli ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer in the normalisation deals.

He seemed to suggest his nomination could be controversial.

"The Nobel Peace Prize is not for popularity. Nor is it an assessment of what the international community may think of those who helped bring about peace. It is an award for fulfilling the daunting criteria set out by Alfred Nobel in his will," he wrote.

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

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

Mr Kushner said in a statement he was honoured 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 reached during the Trump administration, including arms packages for the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

There have been some complaints from lawmakers about the Morocco deal because to get Morocco to agree to it, the United States recognised Morocco's sovereignty over the disputed Western Sahara region.

Mr Trump left office Jan 20 under a cloud of controversy, potentially impacting whether the pair of aides would be awarded the Nobel.

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