Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

How the US set out its Peace to Prosperity plan for the Palestinians

Jared Kushner, adviser to President Donald Trump, opened his economic workshop on Tuesday, calling Washington’s $50 billion plan for Middle East peace the 'opportunity of the century'

The US hosted a two-day workshop in Bahrain this week, as the Trump administration laid out its “Peace to Prosperity” plan for the Palestinians.

Jared Kushner, adviser to President Donald Trump, opened his economic workshop on Tuesday, calling Washington’s $50 billion plan for Middle East peace the “opportunity of the century” and claiming the US had not given up on Palestinians.

Here we look back at what we learnt from the plan and workshop at the event held in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, on June 25-26.

What is the US plan?

The plan, announced a few days ahead of the workshop, seeks $50bn (Dh184bn) in investment for the Palestinians in the form of more than 150 projects, the most ambitious being a new transport channel between the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

It allocates $27bn for those two territories, and the remaining $23bn for Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel.

After 30 months of planning, the Trump administration has gone for an economy-first approach, for investment that would be conditional on a final agreement.

President Donald Trump and his team said a new approach was required after decades of failure.

What did Jared Kushner tell the Palestinians?

“President Trump and America have not given up on you. This workshop is for you,” Mr Kushner said at the start of the gathering.

Mr Kushner said a fair political solution for the Palestinians was necessary to end the conflict but that Washington’s plan for that portion would come at a later date.

He said that focusing on the Palestinian economy first could lead to real peace and prosperity.

“Today is not about the political issues – we’ll get to those at the right time,” Mr Kushner said. “The goal is to think about these challenges in a new way.”

He said the Palestinians are one of the biggest recipients of donor funds in the world and needed to become more self-reliant.

“We can turn this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model for commerce and advancement throughout the world,” Mr Kushner said.

He envisaged Gaza as a bustling tourism centre and the occupied West Bank with a blooming economy.

“Imagine people and goods flowing securely throughout the region,” he said.

The Palestinian leadership, which has severed relations with Washington, rejected the plan and did not attend the workshop.

Who attended the workshop?

Business leaders, potential investors, statesmen including Tony Blair and US administration figures.

Governments from across the Arab World were represented by senior officials.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia sent ministers to Manama at a time of heightened tensions in the region.

They gave their support for the economic proposal, as long as it was implemented on the basis of the Saudi-led Arab Peace Initiative, which advocates a two-state solution based on 1967 borders with occupied East Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital.

“We should give it a fair chance,” Obaid Al Tayer, UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs, told the workshop of the economic plan.

Updated: June 28, 2019 06:10 PM

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