Jared Kushner is drawing controversy for claiming during a speech in Jerusalem that Palestinian protesters who had been killed by Israeli soldiers were “part of the problem.”
The top White House official was speaking at the opening on the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on Monday when he addressed the tensions in the region. Reports indicated that Israeli soldiers opened fire on Palestinian protesters who were demonstrating against the decision to move the U.S. embassy, killing dozens. In his remarks, Kushner said these protesters were part of the problem that has erupted in the area, Time reported.
Kushner noted that the Palestinian protesters were accused of stoking tensions by throwing rocks, firebombs, and other devices. The New York Times reported that more than 1,700 protesters were injured and dozens were killed in the subsequent attacks from the Israeli military.
“As we have seen from the protests of the last month and even today, those provoking violence are part of the problem and not part of the solution,” Kushner said via Time.
Donald Trump tasked Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, with forging a path to peace between Israel and Palestine. But Trump’s decision to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem has sparked new tensions and weeks of protests at the Gaza border.
As the BBC noted, the Israeli military has claimed that the protests are being staged by Hamas as a cover for intrusions into Israel to launch attacks, but Palestinian leaders believe that the protesters are being wrongfully killed. Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian representative to the United Nations, called for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council to stop what he called the “savage onslaught” against Palestinian civilians.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this atrocity by the Israeli occupying forces, using this massive firepower against civilians who have the right to demonstrate peacefully and they have been demonstrating peacefully,” he told reporters via the BBC.
As the report noted, Manous had been warning that moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem would create a new rift and derail the steps toward peace that Israel and Palestine had been making.
Despite his high standing in the White House and leading up a number of important initiatives — Trump also tasked Kushner with coming up with a plan to address America’s opioid epidemic and overseeing small business efforts — Jared Kushner has rarely made public appearances. His speech in Jerusalem was one of the first public remarks of his tenure.