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Kushner suggests temporarily moving Gaza civilians to Negev

Israel should create a "secure area" in the Negev to house noncombatants before "finishing the job" against Hamas, said the former senior White House adviser.

Senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, ahead of his departure with U.S.-Israeli delegation from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, Aug. 31, 2020. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.
Senior adviser to the president Jared Kushner at Ben-Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv, ahead of his departure with U.S.-Israeli delegation from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi, Aug. 31, 2020. Photo by Tomer Neuberg/Flash90.

Former senior White House adviser Jared Kushner recently recommended that the Israel Defense Forces evacuate Gaza civilians to the Negev Desert amid the war with Hamas.

Kushner suggested that the Jewish state create a “secure area” inside its sovereign borders and relocate Palestinians there before “going in and finishing the job” against the terrorist group.

“How do we deal with the terror threat that is there [in Gaza] so that it cannot be a threat to Israel or to Egypt?” Kushner asked in a Feb. 15 conversation with Harvard Kennedy School professor Tarek Masoud.

“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—I don’t think that Israel has stated that they don’t want the people to move back [to Gaza] afterwards,” he said.

The hour-and-a-half-long interview was initially posted to YouTube two weeks ago, but was first reported on this week by The Guardian.

Kushner stressed that both Jerusalem and Cairo have spent “a fortune” on fighting Hamas, adding that “neither side really wants to have a terrorist organization enclaved right between them.”

He continued: “If you think about all the money that’s gone into this [Hamas terror] tunnel network and into all the munitions, if that would have gone into education or innovation, what could have been done?”

Kushner, who has left politics and now heads a private equity fund backed by Saudi Arabia, noted that “Gaza’s waterfront property…could be very valuable, if people would focus on building up livelihoods.”

The comments were widely condemned on X, including by James Zogby, founder of the Arab American Institute, who claimed on Tuesday that Kushner had called for Israel to “move Palestinians out of Gaza because the beach property has development potential.”

Accusing critics of selectively quoting him, Kushner on Wednesday said he stood by his remarks, tweeting that “the Palestinian people’s lives will improve ONLY when the international community and their citizenry start demanding accountability from their leadership.

“I expressed my dismay that the Palestinian people have watched their leaders squander decades of Western aid on tunnels and weapons rather than on improving their lives.”

Kushner, 43, was among the architects behind the landmark 2020 Abraham Accords, which saw four Arab countries normalize ties with Jerusalem. He also helped draft the Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” proposal, which included a $50 billion economic development plan for the region but was rejected by Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

Last year, Kushner’s Affinity Partners fund announced its intention to acquire a $150 million stake in an Israeli automotive services company, marking the first Saudi-backed investment in the Jewish state.

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