President-elect Donald Trump’s son-in-law co-directs a family foundation that has donated tens of thousands of dollars to Jewish settlement organizations in the West Bank, according to tax records.
Trump has said Jared Kushner, who serves as a close adviser, could help negotiate a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. The donations by Kushner’s parents’ foundation could complicate his ability to be an impartial broker.
The Israeli daily Haaretz on Monday first reported the donations by the family foundation, which Kushner and his siblings direct with their parents.
The U.S. and most of the international community consider settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem to be illegal or illegitimate and obstacles to peace. The Palestinians seek both territories, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, for their hoped-for state.
But Trump has signaled he may alter decades of U.S. policy. The Republican Party’s platform rejected “the false notion” that Israel is an occupier, and an adviser to Trump on Israel affairs has said Trump does not perceive settlements, home to roughly 600,000 Israelis, to be an impediment to peace.
According to tax records, the Charles and Seryl Kushner Foundation donated at least $38,000 between 2011 and 2013 to the American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, the fundraising arm of a Jewish seminary in Beit El, a West Bank settlement.
The Beit El Yeshiva Center is associated with Arutz Sheva, also known as Israel National News, a news organization affiliated with the Jewish settler movement.
On Tuesday, a manager at the seminary declined to comment about the Kushner family’s donations and asked a visiting team of journalists to leave.
In 2012 and 2013, the Kushner family foundation donated a total of $15,000 to the Etzion Foundation, which operates three Orthodox Jewish study institutions in West Bank settlements. In 2011, the family donated $5,000 to Ohr Torah Stone, an Orthodox Jewish educational institution in the West Bank settlement of Efrat.
The family also donated at least $298,600 to the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces, an organization that runs educational and cultural programs for Israeli soldiers, between 2010 and 2012, according to the tax records.
The organizations are registered as non-profits in the U.S. and charitable contributions to them are both legal and tax exempt.
Risa Heller, a spokeswoman for the Kushner companies, declined to comment on the donations to West Bank settlement groups. “Charles and Seryl Kushner are extremely generous and have given away over $100 million to charitable causes including hospitals, schools, non-profits and religious institutions,” Heller said.
The donations are a small part of the Kushner’s philanthropic activities. The family has also donated to Israeli hospitals, Israel’s national Holocaust memorial, and cultural institutions like the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra and a leading Israeli art school.
But to Palestinians, the donations have added to fears that the Trump administration will not be sympathetic to their cause.
“If anyone was foolish enough to believe that a Trump administration might succeed in negotiating a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, this is further evidence of their delusions,” said Diana Buttu, a Palestinian political analyst and former adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.