Kushner suggests Gazans should be moved to Israeli desert region

Jared Kushner, who advised his father-in-law former President Trump on the Middle East, suggested last month that Gazans should be moved to an Israeli desert to allow Israel’s military to complete its military campaign against Hamas.

The question of how to shield Palestinian civilians from the next stages of Israel’s war in Gaza is at the center of rising tensions with the U.S., which has warned Israel against invading Rafah, where Hamas battalions are allegedly hiding, without a plan to evacuate more than a million civilians there.

“So, what I would do right now if I was Israel is I would try to say, ‘Number one, you wanna get as many civilians out of Rafah as possible,’” Kushner said in a conversation with Harvard’s Middle East Initiative (MEI) faculty Chair Tarek Masoud last month.

“I think that you wanna try to clear that out,” Kushner added. “I know that with diplomacy, maybe … get them into Egypt, I know that that’s been refused, but … the right diplomacy, I think it would be possible. But, in addition to that, the thing that I would try to do if I was Israel right now is, I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there.”

The Negev is a desert region in the south of Israel.

Kushner spoke with Masoud on Feb. 15. The conversation was posted on YouTube on March 7 and reported on by The Guardian on Tuesday.

Masoud questioned Kushner on the idea of moving Gazans to the Negev, asking him if “that would be something you would try to work on?”

“I’m sitting in Miami Beach right now. And I’m, you know, I’m looking at the situation and I’m just thinking what would I do, if I was there,” Kushner responded.

Kushner also said that he thinks Gaza’s waterfront property “could be very valuable … if people would focus on kind of building up, you know, livelihoods,” instead of spending money on tunnels or munitions.

“And so, I think that, it’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there,” he continued.

The former president’s son-in-law also stated his opposition to a Palestinian state, saying that he thinks “proactively recognizing a Palestinian state would essentially be rewarding an act of terror.”

“So, it’s a super bad idea in that regard,” Kushner said.

The Biden administration has said a two-state solution is the only long-term way to avoid crises and conflict in the region. It has also ramped up warnings to Israel against a Rafah invasion, which Biden reiterated on a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday.

Netanyahu agreed to send officials to discuss alternative options with U.S. counterparts, but he said Tuesday that an incursion into the southern city was inevitable.

Kushner, who led Middle East policy in his father-in-law’s administration, said in October of last year that he’s supporting Trump for another term this year because of how he helped the Middle East while president.

In an interview with podcaster Lex Fridman, Kushner pointed blame at Biden for the war in Gaza.

“Now, under President Biden, this is the second war that’s broken out in the world, and when you have weak leadership, the world becomes a less safe place,” he said.

“My hope and prayers are that President Trump is reelected and that he’s able to then restore calm and peace and prosperity to the world.”

Kushner has said he would decline an invitation to return to the White House if Trump is reelected in November.

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