Kushner, Trump's son-in-law, praises 'valuable' Gaza, suggests removing civilians to Egypt or Negev

AP , Wednesday 20 Mar 2024

Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s former White House adviser and his son-in-law, praised the “very valuable” potential of Gaza’s “waterfront property," suggesting that Israel should remove civilians while it “cleans up” the area.

FILE - Jared Kushner waves as he arrives at the Office of the United States Trade Representative Aug. 29, 2018, in Washington. AP


“Gaza’s waterfront property, it could be very valuable, if people would focus on building up livelihoods,” Kushner said in an interview dated Feb. 15, posted earlier this month on the YouTube channel of the Middle East Initiative, a program of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, and reported first on Tuesday by The Guardian. “If you think about all the money that's gone into this tunnel network and into all the munitions, if that would have gone into education or innovation, what could have been done?”

“It’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but I think from Israel’s perspective, I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up,” Kushner added. “But I don’t think that Israel has stated that they don’t want the people to move back there afterwards.”

Responding Tuesday on X to “those dishonestly using selected parts” of his remarks, Kushner posted a video of the entire interaction, saying he stood by his comments “and believe the Palestinian people’s lives will improve ONLY when the international community and their citizenry start demanding accountability from their leadership.”

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to send a team of Israeli officials to Washington to discuss a prospective Rafah operation with Biden administration officials.

In the interview last month, Kushner also suggested that getting civilians out of Rafah and potentially into Egypt, might be possible “with the right diplomacy,” also positing a plan for the the Negev desert in southern Israel.

Additionally, Kushner suggested that he “would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there,” adding: “I know that won’t be the popular thing to do, but I think that’s a better option to do, so you can go in and finish the job.”

“I think Israel’s gone way more out of their way than a lot of other countries would, to try to protect civilians from casualties," Kushner claimed.

The debate over the Israeli war on Gaza has developed into a major theme of this year's U.S. presidential election, drawing dividing lines between Biden and Trump, as well as within their own parties.

Asked in an interview Monday about Democrats’ growing criticism of Netanyahu over his handling of the war in Gaza, Trump charged that Jews who vote for Democrats “hate Israel” and hate “their religion,” igniting a firestorm of criticism from the White House and Jewish leaders.

He doubled down on those remarks Tuesday, telling reporters in Florida that “the Democrats have been very, very opposed to Jewish people.” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., meanwhile, gave a speech from the Senate floor calling Trump's comments “utterly disgusting and a textbook example of the kind of antisemitism facing Jews.”

Kushner worked on a wide range of issues and policies in the Trump administration, including Middle East peace efforts. Noting that he is not interested in rejoining the White House if Trump — who last week became the presumptive GOP nominee — wins the 2024 presidential election, Kushner said last month that he was focused on his investment business and his living with his family in Florida out of the public eye.


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