Jared Kushner highlights real estate potential of ‘Gaza waterfront’ and suggests moving Palestinians to Negev

Trump's former Middle East adviser made the controversial comments at Harvard University


Jared Kushner, adviser to former US president Donald Trump, speaks during a panel at the annual Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference in Riyadh on October 25, 2023. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP) (Photo by FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP via Getty Images)

Comments from Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner about about the "valuable" real estate potential of “Gaza’s waterfront” has surfaced after a talk he gave at Harvard University in February.

Kushner, Trump’s former Middle East adviser, also suggested Israel should remove Gazans to the Negev desert or Egypt while it “clears up” the area.

He also said: “Gaza’s waterfront property could be very valuable … if people would focus on building up livelihoods.”

In a conversation with Harvard’s Middle East Initiation faculty chair, Professor Tarek Masoud, Kushner called the situation in Gaza “unfortunate” and said: “From Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up.

“But I don’t think that Israel has stated that they don’t want the people to move back there afterward,” he added.

Masoud said there was “a lot to talk about there”.

Kushner said if he were in charge of Israel, his priority would be getting civilians out of Rafah and they could be moved to Egypt “with diplomacy”.

“I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there, I know that won’t be the popular thing to do but I think that’s the 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 other countries would to try to protect civilians from casualties, but I do think right now opening up the Negev, creating a secure area there, moving the civilians out, and then going in and finishing the job would be the right move.”

Masoud asked, “Are people in Israel seriously talking about that possibility?” to which Kushner said, “I don’t know.”

“I’m sitting in Miami Beach right now,” Kushner said. “And I’m looking at the situation and I’m thinking: what would I do if I was there?”

Asked by Masoud about fears that Benjamin Netanyahu would not allow Palestinians who flee Gaza to return, Kushner said: “Maybe.”

He added: “I am not sure there is much left of Gaza at this point. If you think about even the construct, Gaza was not really a historical precedent. It was the result of a war. You had tribes in different places and then Gaza became a thing. Egypt used to run it and then over time different governments came in.”

Kushner said that giving the Palestinians their own state was “a super bad idea” that “would essentially be rewarding an act of terror”. He lamented “all the money” that had gone into Gaza’s tunnel network and arms supply instead of innovation.

Kushner's remarks at his alma mater have sparked controversy since they came to light on 8 March, when Harvard’s Middle East Initiative posted a recording of the discussion to its YouTube channel.

Married to Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, Kushner was an unofficial presidential envoy to the Middle East under Trump. He was tasked with preparing a Middle East peace plan, including an end to the decades long Israel-Palestine conflict. He built close ties with Saudi Arabia and helped to broker the Abraham Accords, which saw various Arab countries start to normalize relations with Israel.

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