Palestinians need to break from the past and instead embrace a $50bn US economic revival plan, Jared Kushner, US president Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said on Tuesday, describing it as the “opportunity of the century” and vowing it could create as many as 1m jobs.
Neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials were attending the “Peace to Prosperity Workshop” in Bahrain, where Mr Kushner was presenting the plan to an audience of sceptical Gulf and Arab officials — all of them committed to a two-state solution that Mr Kushner neither mentioned nor endorsed.
The US and Israeli governments will make no contribution to the initiative, expecting donors and investors to come up with the money.
Few in the Arab world believe the plan will gain traction, with the political component seemingly delayed until after Israeli elections in September and perhaps after the 2020 US elections.
Meanwhile, Palestinians have watched with dismay as Mr Trump has unilaterally decided on crucial issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the rights of refugees in Israel’s favour.
We heard from all the Arab states that there will not be normalisation between Arab states and Israel before there is a political solution
“To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict, one that guarantees Israel’s security, and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people,” Mr Kushner told an audience that included Masayoshi Son, the head of Softbank’s $100bn Vision Fund, the IMF’s Christine Lagarde and former UK prime minister Tony Blair. “Today is not about political solutions — we will get to them later.”
Instead, Mr Kushner called on private investors and Arab governments to help raise as much as $50bn for infrastructure and job-creation projects, almost half of them dedicated to the occupied West Bank and the blockaded Gaza Strip and the remainder in neighbouring countries, arguing that economic stability would create the conditions necessary for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Mr Kushner did not address the impact that Israeli actions have had in crippling the Palestinian economy, including the 13-year blockade of the Gaza Strip and restrictions on trade and movement of labour in the West Bank.
Some 2m Palestinians have been trapped in Gaza, a crowded strip of land less than 30 miles long since the militant group Hamas won elections there in 2006 and Israel imposed land, air and sea restrictions. Egypt joined the blockade — Palestinians call it a siege — after a military coup in 2013. Meanwhile, three wars with Israel have weakened Hamas but also devastated the local economy.
“End the siege, and there will be thousands of jobs tomorrow,” said an official from Qatar, which has spent hundreds of millions of dollars propping up Gaza.
Before Mr Kushner spoke, Israel cut the supply of Qatari-financed fuel to Gaza’s sole power plant, blaming it for “incendiary balloons” being flown out of the coastal enclave. The plant was running out of fuel as Mr Kushner spoke about the power grid, according to an official in Gaza.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank is close to financial collapse after rejecting an Israeli effort to subtract millions of dollars from Palestinian tax revenues as punishment for pensions being paid to the families of prisoners convicted of terrorism in Israeli military courts.
The PA has not been able to pay full salaries to tens of thousands of employees for months, after rejecting the reduced sums Israel has transferred, and is borrowing cash from local banks to stay afloat.
Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, who cut all contact with the White House after Mr Trump recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, has appealed to Arab leaders to either boycott the event or send minor officials as observers.
“We know very well that each country has its own circumstances and its own situation — but we heard from all the Arab states that there will not be normalisation between Arab states and Israel before there is a political solution,” said Mr Abbas. He was referring to an Arab pledge to delay diplomatic relations with Israel until a negotiated solution produced a Palestinian state roughly along 1967 borders, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Egypt and Jordan sent mid-level finance ministry functionaries to the gathering. However, Saudi Arabia, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has expressed frustration with Palestinian demands and cultivated close ties to Mr Kushner, sent Mohammed al-Jadaan, the finance minister, and Yasir al-Rumayyan, head of its $300bn Public Investment Fund.
“We are used to this nonsense, let us not listen to endless lies,” said Mr Abbas on Sunday, referring to previous pledges that came to naught. “Nobody will live along enough to see this $50bn.”
- KKR wins race to buy German payments group for €600m 34 views | posted on August 4, 2019 | under Finance
- WeWork tests tolerance for its ‘gov-lite’ structure 14 views | posted on August 15, 2019 | under Finance
- Divi theme Complete eCommerce WordPress Website Build Tutorial 8 views | posted on July 25, 2019 | under Videos
- Venezuela sanctions order leaves Citgo’s future in doubt 8 views | posted on August 12, 2019 | under Finance
- BMO 1st Art! Competition Recognizes Fresh Perspectives from Emerging Canadian Artists 7 views | posted on August 12, 2019 | under Finance