Speed Reads

Trump Transition

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner is apparently already setting U.S. policy on Israel

On Wednesday night, after it became clear that the United States was ready to allow passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Palestinian East Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to Twitter to urge the Obama administration to veto the measure. Soon after, President-elect Donald Trump tweeted an almost verbatim message, "The resolution being considered at the United Nations Security Council regarding Israel should be vetoed," linking to a Facebook post. On Thursday, Egypt, which sponsored the resolution, pulled it for unclear reasons.

A senior Israeli official tells CNN that the Israeli government called Trump to ask him to put pressure on President Obama, after its own efforts failed. A Western official said Israel pressured Egypt to withdraw the resolution as well, and an official in the Trump transition told Reuters that Trump also spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi about the U.N. resolution. Traditionally, presidents-elect don't try to set policy. "It's unprecedented that a president-elect would pronounce on a matter of U.S. policy before he became president," said Arab-Israeli expert Aaron David Miller, "let alone say publicly that the administration should not vote for the resolution."

Trump wasn't certain he should publicly intervene with the tweet and subsequent statement, The Washington Post reports, but he was persuaded by some close advisers:

After initial hesitation on whether Trump should weigh in, the statement was written late Wednesday by Jared Kushner, Trump's son-in-law and an influential adviser to the president-elect, and Stephen K. Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, according to two people briefed on the deliberation who were not authorized to speak publicly. They said that Kushner and Bannon consulted with several allies in Israel and the United States but declined to name them. The effort represented perhaps Kushner's most significant foray to date into foreign policy and the Middle East, where Trump has said he would welcome his son-in-law's involvement. [The Washington Post]

On Twitter, former George W. Bush administration official David Frum tried to put in perspective how unusual this premature policymaking is: "In Dec. 2008, in the midst of worst financial crisis since 1929, Barack Obama meticulously deferred to the one-president-at-a-time rule." You can learn more about the case of the U.N. resolution in the CNN report below. Peter Weber