BOSTON, USA - Gaza’s waterfront properties could be “very valuable”, Donald Trump’s son-in-law has said, as he suggested Israel rehouse displaced civilians in the desert.

Jared Kushner, a former property dealer who served alongside his wife Ivanka Trump as senior White House advisers to her father, also told an audience at Harvard University that a Palestinian state would be “a super bad idea”.

“Gaza’s waterfront property could be very valuable … if people would focus on building up livelihoods,” Mr Kushner said in a discussion chaired by Prof Tarek Masoud, Harvard’s Middle East Initiative faculty chair.

His comments emerged after an international early warning system set up by governments and NGOs determined that half the population of Gaza was on the brink of famine.

Israel’s planned ground offensive in the border city of Rafah could leave around 1.1 million people facing “catastrophic” hunger, the UN-backed food security assessment warned.

The West has struggled to respond to the looming humanitarian catastrophe, with US and European aid airdrop efforts criticised as inefficient by some international aid organisations.

Earlier this month, Joe Biden announced the US would deliver aid to Gaza from a floating pier, but that too is fraught with logistical and security challenges. A US military ship is en route carrying building equipment.

Speaking at Harvard, Mr Kushner said: “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.”

Asked about concerns that Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, would not allow fleeing Palestinians to return, Mr Kushner said: “Maybe.”

“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 [sic]. It was the result of a war,” he added.

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

Mr Kushner also criticised “all the money” that had gone into the Hamas-run territory’s weapons stockpile and underground tunnel network instead of being used on education and innovation.

‘I would try to move people to the Negev’

And he suggested that establishing a Palestinian state “would essentially be rewarding an act of terror”.

A top priority for Israel, he said, should be moving civilians out of Rafah, and persuading Egypt to accept refugees “with diplomacy”.

In addition, he said the Jewish state should move displaced Gazans to the Negev desert in southern Israel.

“I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there,” he said. “I think that’s a better option, so you can go in and finish the job.”

Prof Masoud asked if the proposal was something he would “try to work on”. Mr Kushner said: “I’m sitting in Miami Beach right now. And I’m looking at the situation and I’m thinking: what would I do if I was there?”

The 43-year-old was an unpaid senior adviser in his father-in-law’s White House, and played a key role in brokering Mr Trump’s foreign policy approach in the Middle East.

While in the White House, he produced a 180-page Middle East peace plan which was three years in the making and included efforts to normalise relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

It was endorsed by Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, but led the Palestinian Authority to cut ties with the US and Israel.

Mr Kushner’s remarks at Harvard on March 8 may give some indication of how Mr Trump will approach the Israel-Hamas war should he win back the White House.

Kushners will not serve again in White House

However, Mr Kushner and his wife have both kept a distance from Mr Trump’s 2024 campaign and have ruled out serving in a future Trump administration.

He was sharing his thoughts on the Gaza conflict as part of the Harvard faculty’s Middle East Dialogues Series, which it shared on YouTube.

Participants in the series included a former foreign policy adviser to the progressive senator Bernie Sanders, and Dr Dalal Iriqat, a professor at Arab American University.

Israel has been waging its war in Gaza for more than five months following Hamas’ unprecedented Oct 7 attack which killed about 1,160 Israelis, most of them civilians.

Around 130 hostages seized by the terror group are estimated to still be held in Gaza, including 33 who are presumed dead.

More than 31,800 Gazans, mostly women and children, have also been killed in the conflict according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.