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Jerusalem: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner attend Israeli event held atop Muslim cemetery

Jared Kushner said normalisation deals with Israel had set a 'new paradigm' in the Middle East during a caucus speech at the Knesset
Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attend the launch of the 'Friedman Center for Peace through Strength' in Jerusalem on 11 October, 2021 (AFP)

Former US president Donald Trump's daughter and son-in-law visited occupied Jerusalem on Monday to promote the normalisation deals between Israel and Arab countries, and attended a reception held atop a Muslim cemetery in the city.

Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner, a real-estate businessman and a former White House adviser, attended the so-called "Abraham Accords Caucus" in Israel's parliament on Monday morning. 

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Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu - under whose tenure as prime minister, four Arab countries agreed to normalise ties with Israel - attended the assembly along with Defence Minister Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, and representatives of Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Morroco.

Kushner said that normalisation deals with Israel had set a "new paradigm" in the Middle East, while Lapid said that Israel would work to "expand the circle" of countries joining the so-called "Abraham Accords".

Palestinian political powers across the board rejected the US-led normalisation deals, calling them "a stab in the back."

They have turned down lucrative US initiatives to invest in the Palestinian economy in return for a compromise over political rights, such as building a Palestinian state in the occupied West Bank and besieged Gaza Strip and retaining occupied East Jerusalem as Palestine's capital.

The historic Mamilla

Kushner and Ivanka also attended a reception for the launch of Friedman Center for Peace through Strength on Monday evening.

The event, severely opposed by Palestinians, was held in the Museum of Tolerance, a controversial building created in Jerusalem over parts of the historic Islamic Ma'man Allah cemetery, also known as Mamilla.

The centre is named after David Friedman, a former US ambassador to Israel, who has been Israel's chief cheerleader since taking office in May 2017 and has raised donations for illegal settlement expansion in the West Bank. 

Palestinian Grand Mufti Mohamed Hussein said that Mamilla, which has been a Palestinian burial site for centuries, is an "Islamic endowment... [and] any attack on it represents a blatant attack on Muslims worldwide and an insult to their feelings."

Hussein urged for "a firm end to [Israel's] targeting of Islamic religious places with aggression and desecration."

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Freidman's event was also attended by Netanyahu, former Trump administration's officials Mike Pompeo and Steven Mnuchin, and Fifa President Gianni Infantino.

According to reports, Freidman said that his centre's mission is to "bring Muslim tourists to Jerusalem".

"We are on the cusp of ending the Israeli-Arab conflict and changing the Middle East," he added.

Palestinians had objected to the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, saying that it desecrated a Muslim cemetery.

In 2010, Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the UN, wrote a letter to the general-secretary that "Ironically, both the centre and museum [of tolerance] bear names that do not befit this act of bigotry and contempt to dignity and worth of the human person."

"Building on the cemetery constitutes a violation of basic human rights, including the right to manifest religious beliefs, the right to family and culture and the right to freedom from discrimination," Mansour wrote.

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.