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Jared Kushner veered off-script with inflammatory remarks about Gaza protests

Jared Kushner's speech at the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem referenced deadly Palestinian protests

by Christianna Silva
May 14 2018, 6:45pm

Jared Kushner made a wildly controversial comment about the unrest in Gaza to a crowd at the U.S. Embassy opening in Jerusalem on Monday that did not appear to be part of his prepared remarks and was not included in excerpts of the speech later released by the White House

"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 in a rare public appearance. His comments were in reference to the Palestinians protesting the embassy moving from Tel Aviv. In the hours leading up to the ceremony, and continuing though the day, at least 52 Palestinians were gunned down and over 2,000 more were injured by Israeli soldiers in the contested Gaza Strip, making it the deadliest day between Israelis and Palestinians since the 2014 Gaza War, according to CNN.

The president's son-in-law and senior adviser has been overseeing Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts for several months, mostly behind the scenes, and this speech was arguably his most significant policy speech to date.

But Kushner’s comments as the violence raged on weren’t included in the excerpts of his remarks delivered to the press ahead of time, according to TIME Magazine. And while VICE News was unable to verify the report, both CNN's Jim Scuitto and MSNBC News reporter Ayman Mohyeldin say that the remarks were completely omitted from an official White House transcript he obtained.

What was in the transcript was his optimism about the prospects for peace in the area.

“We believe it is possible for both sides to gain more than they give so that all people can live in peace, safe from danger, free from fear, and able to pursue their dreams," Kushner said. “I believe peace is within reach if we dare to believe the future can be different from the past. That we are not condemned to relive history, and that the way things were is not how they must forever be.”

President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and promised to move the U.S. Embassy to the holy city during his campaign for president. In December, he announced the decision to make the move, a controversial break with decades of official U.S. policy.

“While presidents before him backed down from their pledge to move the American embassy once in office, this president delivered. Because when President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it,” Kushner said.

The embassy move is seen by many Palestinians as a pro-Israel bias from Trump, and Palestinian leaders have refused to engage with the U.S. in recent months.

“It is very, very tragic that they're celebrating an illegal action while Israel is killing and injuring thousands of Palestinian civilians,” Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters outside the U.N. Security Council chambers in New York, according to ABC News. “This is the life of the Palestinian people, and those who think that opening the embassy opens doors to peace, let them look at what is really happening in the Gaza Strip.”

Cover image: Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner speaks on stage as U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman looks on during the opening of the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images.