Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner says Gaza ‘waterfront property could be very valuable’

Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner says Gaza ‘waterfront property could be very valuable’

WASHINGTON: Mr Jared Kushner, son-in-law to former United States president Donald Trump, has sparked controversy with his remarks on Gaza and the relocation of its civilians.

The Guardian reported on March 19 that Mr Kushner, who served as a senior adviser during Trump’s presidency, made the contentious comments about the embattled enclave during an interview at Harvard University.

AP reported that the interview took place on Feb 15 and was posted on the YouTube channel of the Middle East Initiative, a programme of Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government, on March 8.

In his comments, Mr Kushner, a former property dealer, highlighted the economic possibilities of Gaza’s coast, lamenting the resources spent on military infrastructure rather than on sectors like education and innovation.

“Gaza’s waterfront property could be very valuable… if people would focus on building up livelihoods,” Mr Kushner told Professor Tarek Masoud, faculty chair of Harvard’s Middle East Initiative.

The Guardian reported that Mr Kushner, who is Jewish, suggested a strategy for Israel to temporarily remove Gaza’s population to facilitate a cleanup of the area, but did not rule out its return.

“It’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up,” Mr Kushner said.

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

Mr Kushner’s proposal included relocating civilians from the southern Gaza town of Rafah, potentially into Egypt, which he believed could be achieved through diplomatic efforts.

He also brought up the possibility of developing the Negev desert in southern Israel as a resettlement area, even suggesting bulldozing a site there to accommodate displaced Gazans.

In response to criticism, Mr Kushner defended his statements on social media platform X, insisting that quality of life for Palestinians would only improve with increased accountability from their leadership.

The publishing of his remarks comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spurned a plea from US President Joe Biden to call off a planned ground assault of Rafah, the last refuge in Gaza for more than a million displaced people, where Israel believes Hamas militants are holed up.

Mr Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers on March 19 that he had made it “supremely clear” to Mr Biden “that we are determined to complete the elimination of these battalions in Rafah, and there’s no way to do that except by going in on the ground”, reported Reuters.

Israel is seeking to eliminate Hamas after militants crossed into Israel on a rampage on Oct 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Nearly 32,000 people – many of whom are women and children – have been confirmed killed in Israel’s retaliatory onslaught, according to Palestinian health officials, with thousands more feared lost under the rubble.

Mr Kushner’s insights gave a glimpse of what Middle East policy under a potential new Trump administration could look like. Trump, who served as president from 2017 to 2021, is the Republican nominee up against Mr Biden in Nov 5’s election.

However, Mr Kushner, who played a key role in Middle East peace efforts during his tenure in the White House, has expressed no interest in returning even if Trump wins, and in February said he was focused on his investment business and living with his family in Florida out of the public eye.

Courtesy: straitstimes