‘Deal of Century’: Berkowitz, A Former Coffee Boy Turned US New ME Envoy
Avi Berkowitz, an assistant to White House senior advisor and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, will inherit the role from Jason Greenblatt, formerly Trump’s real estate lawyer, after Greenblatt announced yesterday he would step down.
Berkowitz, a Harvard Law School graduate since 2016, has no foreign policy experience. In the same year, he joined the Trump campaign and has ever since served as Kushner’s right-hand-man in the administration.
A 2017 Business Insider profile of Berkowitz quoted former White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks as saying his main duties were “daily logistics like getting coffee and coordinating meetings.”
A former employer said on Twitter Berkowitz was “not very impressive and needed significant hand-holding to handle even simple assignments. But Mideast peace? I’m sure he’s got this!” Another Arab states expert described him as “a glorified intern”.
The appointment “demonstrates a lack of seriousness” in the administration’s approach to the peace plan and Kushner’s complete dominance over the process, former Middle East advisor to the US war department Jasmine El-Gamal told The Telegraph. “They are not even pretending otherwise by hiring a qualified person as an envoy.”
Others have raised concerns that Berkowitz, like Greenblatt before him and Kushner, is a Zionist Jew, which may lead to a perception of bias in any peace negotiations with Palestinian officials. Upon Greenblatt’s announcement of his departure, Trump thanked him for his “dedication to 'Israel'.”
Some analysts suspect the surprising appointment has been made so Berkowitz can be easily disposed of if Trump’s Middle East peace plan is not well received. The process has so far been widely criticized, in no small part because it is led by Kushner, who, like his father-in-law, has a background in New York real estate rather than foreign policy.