BET EL, West Bank (Reuters) - For many in the Israeli settlement of Bet El, deep in the occupied West Bank, Donald Trump's choice of Jared Kushner as his senior adviser on the Middle East is a sign of politics shifting in their favor.
They regard Kushner, whose family's charitable foundation has donated tens of thousands of dollars to their settlement, as part of a diplomatic rebalancing after what they view as eight years of anti-Israel bias under the U.S. administration of Barack Obama.
"He will stand up for our interests. I suppose he will lean in our favor," said Avi Lavi, 46, who has lived in Bet El for more than 40 years. "He'll be fair, as opposed to Obama, whose policy leaned always towards the Arabs."
New U.S. President Trump says his son-in-law Kushner, 36, is capable of brokering the "ultimate deal" to deliver peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Jared Kushner through the years
Jared Kushner through the years
UNITED STATES - AUGUST 08: Jared Kushner attends the New York premiere of 'Factotum' at the IFC Center Theater. (Photo by Richard Corkery/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - JUNE 16: Laura Englander and Jared Kushner attend The Partnership for Public Service's Third Annual Black Tie Gala Honoring John McCain with 'The Theodore Roosevelt Award for the Advancement of Public Service' at Waldorf-Astoria on June 16, 2005 in New York City. (Photo by Jimi Celeste/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Jared Kushner during Miss Potter New York Premiere - Inside Arrivals at DGA Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Lawrence Lucier/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MAY 8: Mort Zuckerman and Jared Kushner attend TIME Magazine's 100 Most Influential People 2007 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on May 8, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by PATRICK MCMULLAN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - JUNE 14: (L-R) Jerry Della Famina, Matthew Weiner and Jared Kushner attend AMC Hosts a Special Preview and Discussion of Their Provocative New Series 'MAD MEN' at Michael's on June 14, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JIMI CELESTE/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
Michael Moore and Jared Kushner during 'Sicko' New York City Premiere - Reception at Ziegfeld Theater in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/WireImage for The Weinstein Company)
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 24: Owner of the New York Observer Jared Kushner arrives at The Metropolitan Opera's Opening Night at Lincoln Center September 24, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images for Metropolitan Opera)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - SEPTEMBER 9: (L-R) Ivanka Trump, Narciso Rodriguez and Jared Kushner attend Afterparty for the NARCISO RODRIGUEZ Spring/Summer 2008 Collection at Gramercy Park Hotel on September 9, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
NEW YORK CITY, NY - MARCH 13: vanka Trump (in Elie Saab and Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry) and Jared Kushner attend The Young Fellows of The Frick Collection, with ELIE SAAB and IVANKA TRUMP Fine Jewelry present a gala 'Un Ballo in Maschera' at The Frick Collection on March 13, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by DAVID X PRUTTING/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)
BEDMINSTER, NJ - OCTOBER, 25: In this handout image provided by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump (R) and Jared Kushner (L) attend their wedding at Trump National Golf Club on October 25, 2009 in Bedminster, New Jersey. (Photo Brian Marcus/Fred Marcus Photography via Getty Images)
ï¿½2010 RAMEY PHOTO August 19, 2010 - Porto Cervo - Sardinia Ivanka Trump,the daughter of Ivana and Donald Trump, is spending a few days on holiday with her husband Jared Kushner. CPE/MB (Photo by Philip Ramey/Corbis via Getty Images)
Jared Kushner, Owner of New York Observer and Kai Madison Trump attend the 4th annual Eric Trump Foundation Golf Invitational at the Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 14, 2010 in Briarcliff Manor, New York.
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 18: Jared Kushner speaks at the FINCA 25th Anniversary Creating Pathways Out of Poverty event at Capitale Bowery on November 18, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Joe Corrigan/Getty Images for FINCA)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump attend the COMEDY CENTRAL Roast of Donald Trump at the Hammerstein Ballroom on March 9, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 17: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the Vanity Fair Party during the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival at the State Supreme Courthouse on April 17, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
DORAL, FL - MARCH 07: Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump and Eric Trump attend the Carolina Herrera Fashion Show with GREY GOOSE Vodka at the Cadillac Championship at Trump National Doral on March 7, 2014 in Doral, Florida. (Photo by John Parra/Getty Images for GREY GOOSE)
BRIARCLIFF MANOR, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Lara Yunaska and Jared Kushner attend The Eric Trump 8th Annual Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club Westchester on September 15, 2014 in Briarcliff Manor, New York. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MAY 04: Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump attend the 'China: Through The Looking Glass' Costume Institute Benefit Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 4, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 26: Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are seen on March 26, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Tal Rubin/GC Images)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 11: Ivanka Trump and husband Jared Kushner attend the men's final between Novack Djokovic of Serbia and Stan Wawrinka of Switzerland at Arthur Ashe Stadium on day 14 of the 2016 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 11, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/GC Images)
Ivanka Trump (L) and husband Jared Kushner are seen at a polling station in a school during the 2016 presidential elections on November 8, 2016 in New York. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
(FromL) Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner and Tiffany Trump smile as Republican presidential elect Donald Trump speaks during election night at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York on November 9, 2016.
Trump stunned America and the world Wednesday, riding a wave of populist resentment to defeat Hillary Clinton in the race to become the 45th president of the United States. / AFP / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 18: Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of President-elect Donald Trump, walks through the lobby of Trump Tower with his wife Ivanka on November 18, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 7: Jared Kushner sits in Vice President-elect Mike Pence's car outside of Trump Tower, December 7, 2016 in New York City. President-elect Donald Trump and his transition team are in the process of filling cabinet and other high level positions for the new administration. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (2nd L) smiles at his wife Ivanka Trump as she is mentioned by Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his remarks at the Yad Vashem holocaust memorial in Jerusalem May 23, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner arrives to join U.S. President Donald Trump and the rest of the U.S. delegation to meet with Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud at the Royal Court in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia May 20, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Ivanka Trump, daughter of US President Donald Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, senior adviser to Trump step off Air Force One upon arrival at Rome's Fiumicino Airport on May 23, 2017. Donald Trump arrived in Rome for a high-profile meeting with Pope Francis in what was his first official trip to Europe since becoming US President. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Jared Kushner is seen at the Royal Court after US President Donald Trump received the Order of Abdulaziz al-Saud medal in Riyadh on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BAGHDAD, IRAQ - APRIL 03: In this handout provided by the Department of Defense (DoD), Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump, speaks with Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commander, Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve, during a helo ride aboard a CH-47 over Baghdad, Iraq, April 3, 2017. (Photo by Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD via Getty Images)
QAYYARAH WEST, IRAQ - APRIL 04: In this handout provided by the Department of Defense (DoD), Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to President Donald J. Trump meets with Service Members at a forward operating base near Qayyarah West in Iraq, April 4, 2017. (Photo by Dominique A. Pineiro/DoD via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 17: U.S. President Donald Trump (C) walks along the West Wing colonnade with his daughter Ivanka Trump (L) and his son-in-law and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategic Planning Jared Kushner before he departs the White House March 17, 2017 in Washington, DC. The first family is scheduled to spend the weekend at their Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Senior Advisor to the President, Jared Kushner (L), walks with his wife Ivanka Trump to board Marine One at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2017.
The two are travelling with US President Donald Trump to Florida. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
U.S. President Donald Trump, center, speaks while Jared Kushner, senior White House advisor, left, and Kenneth Frazier, chairman and chief executive officer of Merck & Co., listen during a meeting with manufacturing executives in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017. Trump told some of America's most prominent corporate executives that he intends to put them to work restoring manufacturing jobs and U.S. dominance in trade. Photographer: Olivier Douliery/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 30: Jared Kushner, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, listens during a meeting with small business leaders in the Roosevelt room at the White House in Washington, DC on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner dance at the Liberty Ball at the Washington DC Convention Center following Donald Trump's inauguration as the 45th President of the United States, in Washington, DC, on January 20, 2017. / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: Ianka Trump (R), Jared Kushner, White House senior advisor to the president for strategic planning and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, and two of their children greet members of the armed forces and their families during an event celebrating National Military Appreciation Month and National Military Spouse Appreciation Day in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building May 9, 2017 in Washington, DC. Vice President Mike Pence hosted about 160 spouses and children of the active duty U.S. military members. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Roi Margalit, manager of the Bet El Yeshiva, a seminary complex with around 400 students, said Kushner, an Orthodox Jewish father of three, understood the position of Israeli settlers better than previous envoys.
"At least now we have someone who knows us," the 43-year-old added. "He will now have to study the other side (the Palestinians) and see if there is any common ground."
Trump's pick for Israeli ambassador has sparked particular enthusiasm in the community: David Friedman, who chairs the American Friends of Bet El Institutions fundraising group.
The White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Kushner and Friedman.
Kushner, a businessman who built his career on real estate and publishing, has said little about his views about one of the world's most intractable conflicts, either during the campaign or since Trump took office.
The big question for the Palestinians is whether he can be an impartial actor given his family foundation's past financial ties to Bet El.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has been careful to say he looks forward to working with the Trump administration, but others are less optimistic.
Wasel Abu Youssef, a senior official at the Palestine Liberation Organisation, the main Palestinian political umbrella body, said Kushner could not be a neutral envoy if he was supportive of Israeli settlements.
Hani al-Masri, a political scientist and director of the Palestinian Center for Policy Research and Strategic Studies, said Kushner would be a representative of Israel rather than of the United States.
"If he attempts to resume negotiations, he will seek to hold them at a lower level than previous negotiations. It will be more biased to the Israeli position in an era where Israel is more extreme."
Palestinians want the West Bank and Gaza Strip for an independent state, with its capital in East Jerusalem.
Israel has built about 120 settlements in the West Bank. About 350,000 settlers live there and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem, among about 2.6 million Palestinians.
Most countries consider the settlements illegal and an obstacle to peace as they reduce and fragment the territory Palestinians need for a viable state.
Israel disagrees, citing biblical, historical and political connections to the land and security interests.
Bet El, a community of 1,300 families perched on a hillside where many believe God promised Jacob the land, has been financed in part by donations from American backers.
Among its donors have been the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which gave $10,000 in 2003, and the foundation of Charles and Seryl Kushner, the parents of Jared, which gave $38,000 in 2013, U.S. tax records show.
The New York-based American Friends of Bet El Institutions hosts dinners to raise funds for the settlement, which overlooks the Palestinian city Ramallah.
Kushner has left it up to his father-in-law to comment on what role he might play.
"Jared is such a good kid and he'll make a deal with Israel that no one else can," Trump told The Times of London newspaper last month. "He's a natural dealmaker - everyone likes him."
Middle East analysts say the settlement donations by Kushner's family foundation are not necessarily deal-breakers.
After decades of failed negotiations, the real test is whether he is prepared to rethink the way the Middle East peace process is conducted, said Hugh Lovatt, a fellow of the European Council on Foreign Relations.
"If he reverts to pushing for a process for the sake of process and diplomatic prestige, then he will prove no more successful than his predecessors," Lovatt told Reuters.
"If he acquiesces to Israeli territorial demands and gives a green light to more settlement activity, he could even do irreparable damage to the prospects of long-term peace."
A key diplomatic factor will be whether the Trump administration commits itself to a two-state solution - Israel and an independent Palestinian state living side-by-side.
This remains firmly the goal for the Palestinians and, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israelis.
But some of Kushner's supporters in Bet El appear to be heading in a different direction - and the political voice of hardliners could prove a significant obstacle should peace talks resume.
"The two-state solution is a scam," said Shai Alon, the head of the local council, who describes himself as optimistic about the "Trump era".