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Israel not responsible for Palestinian suffering: Kushner

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Riyadh (AFP)

Israel is not responsible for all Palestinian hardships, US presidential advisor Jared Kushner said on Tuesday, as the Palestinian Authority faces a crippling financial crisis.

"Israel is not the cause of all the suffering of the Palestinian people," Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser, told the Future Investment Initiative conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh.

"If you want to go and invest in the West Bank or Gaza, the issue that's holding you back is the fear of terrorism and that your investment could be destroyed."

Kushner unveiled the economic aspects of a US Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative in June with a conference in Bahrain, in which he dangled $50 billion in investment for the region if the Palestinians agree on a political deal.

The Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference, accusing the administration of ignoring key issues and trying to buy its acceptance of Israeli rule.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas' PA has been in deep financial crisis since February when Israel froze transfers of VAT and customs duties it collects on the Palestinians' behalf.

His administration had to impose austerity measures, cutting almost half the salaries of its employees.

Israel's cuts have hit hard on the Palestinian territories, already suffering unemployment of around 26 percent in the second quarter of 2019, according to the World Bank.

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