Palestinian Plight: Updates & Discussions

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Israel to attend U.S.-led Palestinian conference
16 June 2019

View attachment 8153
FILE PHOTO: Israel's acting foreign minister Israel Katz, who also serves as intelligence and transport minister, attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem February 24, 2019. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis will attend a U.S-led conference in Bahrain next week on proposals for the Palestinian economy as part of a coming peace plan, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Sunday.

The United States has billed the gathering as a workshop to boost the Palestinian economy as part of a broader effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A source briefed on the event told Reuters Israel would send a business delegation but no government officials to the June 25-26 workshop, which is being boycotted by the Palestinian leadership.

“Israel will be at the Bahrain conference and all the coordinations will be made,” Katz said told Israeli Channel 13 News in New York. He gave no further details. The Foreign Ministry declined comment, as did a spokesman for Katz.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on what level of representation Israel was expected to have at the conference.

U.S. officials have said they are inviting economy and finance ministers, as well as business leaders, to Bahrain to discuss investment in the Palestinian territories.
Palestinian leaders have spurned the conference, alleging pro-Israeli bias from Washington.

The Palestinians say the still unpublished U.S. peace plan falls short of their goal of statehood. They blame a halt in U.S. aid and Israeli restrictions for an economic crisis in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

A White House official said on Tuesday that Egypt, Jordan and Morocco planned to attend the conference.

Egypt and Jordan’s participation is considered particularly important because they have historically been major players in Middle East peace efforts and are the only Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel.

One of the sources briefed on the event told Reuters that U.S. and Bahrain had deliberated over whether a non-official Israeli presence was preferable to a government-level delegation, given that Israel currently has a caretaker government in place, pending a September election.

A second source said Israel would be sending a private business delegation.

Trump’s plan faces possible delays due to political upheaval in Israel, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government last month and must fight a second election this year, set for Sept. 17.

Reporting by Dan Williams and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Steve Holland in Washington; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne and Mark Potter

 

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Palestinians don't need Bahrain meeting, they need peace: finance minister
June 23, 2019

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FILE PHOTO - Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara gestures during a news conference in Ramallah, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 21, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

CAIRO (Reuters) - Palestinians don’t need the Bahrain meeting to build their country, they need peace, Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said on Sunday.

“We don’t need the Bahrain meeting to build our country, we need peace, and the sequence of (the plan) — economic revival followed by peace is unrealistic and an illusion,” Bishara told a meeting at the Arab League in Cairo.

The conference in Bahrain on June 25-26 will discuss U.S.-led proposals for an economic vision that is part of a wider plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

Reporting by Nadine Awadalla; Writing by Aidan Lewis


 

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Exclusive: White House's Kushner unveils economic portion of Middle East peace plan
23 June 2019
by Matt Spetalnick, Steve Holland

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is interviewed by Reuters at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S., June 20, 2019.
REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque


WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Saturday outlined a $50 billion Middle East economic plan that would create a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies, and fund a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

The “peace to prosperity” plan, set to be presented by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner at an international conference in Bahrain next week, includes 179 infrastructure and business projects, according to details of the plan and interviews with U.S. officials. The approach toward reviving the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace process was criticized by the Palestinians on Saturday.

The ambitious economic revival plan, the product of two years of work by Kushner and other aides, would take place only if a political solution to the region’s long-running problems is reached.

More than half of the $50 billion would be spent in the economically troubled Palestinian territories over 10 years while the rest would be split between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan. Some of the projects would be in Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where investments could benefit Palestinians living in adjacent Gaza, a crowded and impoverished coastal enclave.

The plan also proposes nearly a billion dollars to build up the Palestinians’ tourism sector, a seemingly impractical notion for now given the frequent flareups between Israeli forces and militants from Hamas-ruled Gaza, and the tenuous security in the occupied West Bank.

The Trump administration hopes that wealthy Gulf states and nations in Europe and Asia, along with private investors, would foot much of the bill, Kushner told Reuters.
“The whole notion here is that we want people to agree on the plan and then we’ll have a discussion with people to see who is interested in potentially doing what,” Kushner told Reuters Television.

The unveiling of the economic blueprint follows two years of deliberations and delays in rolling out a broader peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians. The Palestinians, who are boycotting the event, have refused to talk to the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as the Israeli capital in late 2017.

Veteran Palestinian negotiator Hanan Ashrawi dismissed the proposals on Saturday, saying: “These are all intentions, these are all abstract promises” and said only a political solution would solve the conflict.

Kushner made clear in two interviews with Reuters that he sees his detailed formula as a game-changer, despite the view of many Middle East experts that he has little chance of success where decades of U.S.-backed peace efforts have failed.

“I laugh when they attack this as the ‘Deal of the Century’,” Kushner said of Palestinian leaders who have dismissed his plan as an attempt to buy off their aspirations for statehood. “This is going to be the ‘Opportunity of the Century’ if they have the courage to pursue it.”

Kushner said some Palestinian business executives have confirmed their participation in the conference, but he declined to identify them. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian business community will not attend, businessmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.

Several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, will also participate in the June 25-26 U.S.-led gathering in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, for Kushner’s rollout of the first phase of the Trump peace plan. Their presence, some U.S. officials say privately, appears intended in part to curry favor with Trump as he takes a hard line against Iran, those countries’ regional arch-foe.

The White House said it decided against inviting the Israeli government because the Palestinian Authority would not be there, making do instead with a small Israeli business delegation.

POLITICAL DISPUTES REMAIN

There are strong doubts whether potential donor governments would be willing to open their checkbooks anytime soon, as long as the thorny political disputes at the heart of the decades-old Palestinian conflict remain unresolved.

The 38-year-old Kushner - who like his father-in-law came to government steeped in the world of New York real estate deal-making - seems to be treating peacemaking in some ways like a business transaction, analysts and former U.S. officials say.

Palestinian officials reject the overall U.S.-led peace effort as heavily tilted in favor of Israel and likely to deny them a fully sovereign state of their own.

Kushner’s attempt to decide economic priorities first while initially sidestepping politics ignores the realities of the conflict, say many experts.

“This is completely out of sequence because the Israeli-Palestinian issue is primarily driven by historical wounds and overlapping claims to land and sacred space,” said Aaron David Miller, a former Middle East negotiator for Republican and Democratic administrations.

Kushner acknowledges that “you can’t push the economic plan forward without resolving the political issues as well.” The administration, he said, will “address that at a later time,” referring to the second stage of the peace plan’s rollout now expected no earlier than November.

Kushner says his approach is aimed at laying out economic incentives to show the Palestinians the potential for a prosperous future if they return to the table to negotiate a peace deal.

Kushner stressed that governments would not be expected to make financial pledges on the spot.

“It is a small victory that they are all showing up to listen and partake. In the old days, the Palestinian leaders would have spoken and nobody would have disobeyed,” he said.

TRAVEL CORRIDOR

Kushner’s proposed new investment fund for the Palestinians and neighboring states would be administered by a “multilateral development bank.” Global financial lenders including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank plan to be present at the meeting.

The fund would include “accountability, transparency, anti-corruption, and conditionality safeguards” to protect investments.

A signature project would be to construct a travel corridor for Palestinian use that would cross Israel to link the West Bank and Gaza. It could include a highway and possibly a rail line. The narrowest distance between the territories, whose populations have long been divided by Israeli travel restrictions, is about 40 km (25 miles).

Kushner said that if executed the plan would create a million jobs in the West Bank and Gaza, reduce Palestinian poverty by half and double the Palestinians’ GDP.

But most foreign investors will likely stay clear for the moment, not only because of security and corruption concerns but also because of the drag on the Palestinian economy from Israel’s West Bank occupation that obstructs the flow of people, goods and services, experts say.

Kushner sees his economic approach as resembling the Marshall Plan, which Washington introduced in 1948 to rebuild Western Europe from the devastation of World War Two. Unlike the U.S.-funded Marshall Plan, however, the latest initiative would put much of the financial burden on other countries.

President Donald Trump would “consider making a big investment in it” if there is a good governance mechanism, Kushner said. But he was non-committal about how much the president, who has often proved himself averse to foreign aid, might contribute.

Economic programs have been tried before in the long line of U.S.-led peace efforts, only to fail for lack of political progress. Kushner’s approach, however, may be the most detailed so far, presented in two pamphlets of 40 and 96 pages each that are filled with financial tables and economic projections.

In Manama, the yet-to-released political part of the plan will not be up for discussion, Kushner said.

The economic documents offer no development projects in predominantly Arab east Jerusalem, which Palestinians want as the capital of their future state.

What Kushner hopes, however, is that the Saudis and other Gulf delegates will like what they hear enough to urge Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to consider the plan.

The message Kushner wants them to take to Ramallah: “We’d like to see you go to the table and negotiate and try to make a deal to better the lives of the Palestinian people.”

Reporting By Matt Spetalnick and Steve Holland; Additional reporting by Rami Ayyub in Ramallah; Editing by Ross Colvin and Chizu Nomiyama

 

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Kushner's economic plan for Mideast peace faces broad Arab rejection
June 23, 2019
by Stephen Kalin, Suleiman Al-Khalidi, Mohamed Abdellah

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A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas patrols the border area with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 23, 2019. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

RIYADH/AMMAN/CAIRO (Reuters) - Arab politicians and commentators greeted U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East $50 billion economic vision with a mixture of derision and exasperation, although some in the Gulf called for it to be given a chance.

In Israel, Tzachi Hanegbi, a cabinet member close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, described Palestinians’ rejection of the “peace to prosperity” plan as tragic.

Set to be presented by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner at a conference in Bahrain on June 25-26, the blueprint envisions a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab economies and is part of broader efforts to revive the Israeli-Palestininan peace process.

“We don’t need the Bahrain meeting to build our country, we need peace, and the sequence of (the plan) — economic revival followed by peace is unrealistic and an illusion,” Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said on Sunday.

The lack of a political solution, which Washington has said would be unveiled later, prompted rejection not only from Palestinians but also in Arab countries with which Israel would seek normal relations.

From Sudan to Kuwait, commentators and ordinary citizens denounced Kushner’s proposals in strikingly similar terms: “colossal waste of time,” “non-starter,” “dead on arrival.”

Egyptian liberal and leftist parties slammed the workshop as an attempt to “consecrate and legitimize” occupation of Arab land and said in a joint statement that any Arab participation would be “beyond the limits of normalization” with Israel.

While the precise outline of the political plan has been shrouded in secrecy, officials briefed on it say Kushner has jettisoned the two-state solution - the long-standing worldwide formula that envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

“ANOTHER TRAGEDY”
The PLO has dismissed Kushner’s plans as “all abstract promises,” insisting that only a political solution will solve the problem. It said they were an attempt to bribe the Palestinians into accepting Israeli occupation.

On Israel Radio, Hanegbi said Washington had tried to create “a little more trust and positivity” by presenting an economic vision but had touched a raw nerve for Palestinians.

“They are still convinced that the whole matter of an economic peace is a conspiracy, aimed only at piling them with funds for projects and other goodies only so that they will forget their nationalist inspirations. This of course, is simply paranoia, but it’s another tragedy for the Palestinians,” he said.

Jawad al-Anani, a former senior Jordanian politician, described widespread suspicion after Trump’s decisions to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

“This is an unbalanced approach: it assumes the Palestinians are the more vulnerable side and they are the ones who can succumb to pressure more easily,” he said. “This is a major setback for the whole region.”

Azzam Huneidi, deputy head of Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood, the country’s main opposition said: “The economic plan is the sale of Palestine under the banner of prosperity in return for peace and with no land being returned ... A deal with Arab money.”

“HISTORIC CRIME”
Kushner’s economic proposals will be discussed at the U.S.-led gathering in Bahrain this week. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting and the White House did not invite the Israeli government.

U.S.-allied Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will take part along with officials from Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Lebanon and Iraq will not attend.

“Those who think that waving billions of dollars can lure Lebanon, which is under the weight of a suffocating economic crisis, into succumbing or bartering over its principles are mistaken,” parliament speaker, Nabih Berri, said.

Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Shi’ite group Hezbollah, which wields significant influence over the government, has previously called the plan “an historic crime” that must be stopped.

Arab analysts believe the economic plan is an attempt to buy off opposition to Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land with a multi-billion dollar bribe to pay off the neighboring hosts of millions of Palestinian refugees to integrate them.

“It is disingenuous to say that this plan is purely economic because it has a political dimension that has implications that are incongruous with the political aspirations,” said Safwan Masri, a Columbia University professor.

After Israel’s creation in 1948, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon absorbed the most Palestinian refugees, with some estimates that they now account for around five million.

“NO HARM IN LISTENING”
In recent years, Iran’s bitter rivalry with a bloc led by Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia has increasingly pushed the Arab-Israeli struggle into the background.

While Riyadh and its allies have welcomed Trump’s harder line against Tehran, which has cast itself as the guardian of Palestinian rights, critics accuse Saudi Arabia, the custodian of Islam’s holiest places, of abandoning the Palestinians.

Muslim scholars in the region, who would have in the past rallied popular opinion in support of the Palestinians, were largely silent hours after the plan was released, in a sign of a crackdown on dissent in several Arab countries.

Saudi Arabia has detained several prominent clerics in an apparent move to silence potential opponents of the kingdom’s absolute rulers. Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim authority, al-Azhar, has yet to issue a statement.

Amid fears that it would push them to accept a U.S. plan that favors Israel, Riyadh has assured Arab allies it would not endorse anything that fails to meet key Palestinian demands.

Ali Shihabi, who heads the Arabia Foundation which supports Saudi policies, said the Palestinian Authority was wrong to reject the plan out of hand.

“It should accept it and work on delivering the benefits to its people and then move forward aggressively with non-violent work ... to seek political rights,” he tweeted.

Emirati businessman Khalaf Ahmad al-Habtoor also criticized the Palestinians’ refusal to go to Bahrain.

“There is no harm in listening to what will be placed on the table,” he wrote last month.

Yet even in the Gulf, backing for Kushner’s plan is limited.

“The deal of the century is a...one-sided concession, the Arab side, while the occupier wins everything: land, peace and Gulf money,” said Kuwaiti parliamentarian Osama Al-Shaheen.


Reporting by Stephen Kalin in Riyadh; Mohammed Abdellah, Amina Ismail, Nadine Awadalla and Mahmoud Mourad in Cairo; Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman; Samia Nakhoul, Tom Perry and Ellen Francis in Beirut; Ghaida Ghantous, Alexander Cornwell, Hadeel Al Sayegh, Sylvia Westall and Aziz El Yaakoubi in Dubai; Eric Knecht in Doha; Michael Georgy in Khartoum, Ahmed Hagagy in Kuwait and Jeffrey Heller in Jerusalem; Writing by Stephen Kalin; Editing by Samia Nakhoul, Chris Reese and Keith Weir

 

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Egypt, Russia agree on two-state solution for Palestine
Updated 13 sec ago
Arab News
June 24, 2019
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Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, right, and Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry shake hands after their joint news conference following their talks in Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 24, 2019. (AP)

  • Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has moved to increase military cooperation with Russia
  • The two nations foreign and defense ministers have held regular meetings
CAIRO: Egypt and Russia said on Monday that they agree on a two-state solution and the need to reach a comprehensive deal to the Palestinian issue.

Speaking during a joint press conference, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said Moscow and Cairo have a common vision on a large number of regional issues.

He added that counter-terrorism must be treated with a comprehensive strategy.

His Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, said Moscow supports dialogue between the Arabs and Iran and wants to build confidence to establish security in the Arabian Gulf.

On Syria, Lavrov said: “We are concerned about trying to turn Syrian territory into a zone of conflict between Iran and Israel.”
He said that Russia stresses the need for dialogue and reject attempts to secede in Syria.

Meanwhile, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said Egypt was successfully fighting terrorism — an important step for the whole region — during talks with his

Egyptian counterpart Mohamed Ahmed Zaki in Moscow on Monday.
“We are certain that neutralizing the extremist and terrorist groups operating in your country corresponds to the interests of the whole region,” Shoigu said. According to him, Egypt was “an example of stability in these tumultuous times for the whole Arab world.”

“Largely, this is a personal achievement of President (Abdel Fattah) El-Sisi and the Egyptian Armed Forces. We support the effort of the Egyptian leadership to combat terrorism and normalize the situation on the Sinai Peninsula,” the Defense Minister added.

Shoigu also pointed out “Egypt’s key role in resolving political and economic issues in North Africa and the Middle East.”

Talking about the regular meetings of the two countries' defense and foreign ministers an important part of bilateral cooperation. “The diplomats and the military of our countries have a great opportunity to discuss the burning issues of the current agenda,” the Russian Minister said.

 

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U.S. to solicit funds for Middle East peace plan in Bahrain, though details remain vague
June 25, 2019
by Matt Spetalnick, Stephen Farrell

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arrive at Manama's Four Seasons hotel, the venue for the U.S.-hosted "Peace to Prosperity" conference, in Manama, Bahrain, June 25, 2019. REUTERS/Matt Spetalnick

MANAMA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The Trump administration launches its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on Tuesday with a bid to drum up $50 billion dollars to fund investment in the region, although the political details remain a secret and Palestinians have already denounced the approach as a sell-out.

The two-day international meeting, led by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been billed as the first part of Washington’s broader political blueprint to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be announced at a later date.

But neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments will attend the curtain-raising event in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

There will be close scrutiny as to whether attendees such as Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf states show any interest in making donations to a U.S. plan that has already drawn bitter criticism from Palestinians and many others in the Arab world.

Although the event is supposed to focus on economics, Gulf Arab states hope it will also be used to show their solidarity with the Trump administration over its hard line against Iran, a senior Gulf diplomat said.

Trump on Monday imposed sanctions on Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other officials after Iran downed an U.S. drone last week.

The Saudi delegation is led by Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and includes the governor of sovereign wealth fund Public Investment Fund, state news agency SPA said on Tuesday.

Under the Kushner plan, donor nations and investors would contribute about $50 billion to the region, with $28 billion going to the Palestinian territories - the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip - as well as $7.5 billion to Jordan, $9 billion to Egypt and $6 billion for Lebanon.

Among 179 proposed infrastructure and business projects is a $5 billion transport corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

“I laugh when they attack this as the ‘deal of the century,’” Kushner told Reuters, referring to Trump’s claim for the plan.

“This is going to be the ‘opportunity of the century’ if they have the courage to pursue it.”

Kushner, a Trump adviser who like his father-in-law comes from the world of New York real estate, is presenting his plan in a pair of pamphlets filled with graphs and statistics that resemble an investment prospectus.

PEACE TO PROSPERITY
Expectations for success are low. The Trump team concedes that the economic plan - billed “Peace to Prosperity” - will be implemented only if a political solution to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts is reached.

Any such solution would have to settle long-standing issues such as the status of Jerusalem, mutually agreed borders, satisfying Israel’s security concerns and Palestinian demands for statehood, and the fate of Israel’s settlements and military presence in territory in Palestinians want to build that state.

In an interview with Al Jazeera set to air on Tuesday, Kushner offered a rare glimpse into the plan’s possible political contours, saying a deal would not adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi-led plan that has been the Arab consensus on the necessary elements for a deal since 2002.

“I think we all have to recognize that if there ever is a deal, it’s not going to be along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative. It will be somewhere between the Arab Peace Initiative and between the Israeli position,” he said.

The Arab initiative calls for a Palestinian state drawn along borders that predate Israel’s capture of territory in the 1967 Middle East war, as well as a capital in East Jerusalem and the right of return for refugees, points rejected by Israel.

Hanging over the initiative are questions about whether the Trump team plans to abandon the “two-state solution,” which involves creation of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

The United Nations and most nations back the two-state solution and it has underpinned every peace plan for decades.

But the Trump team - led by Kushner, Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman - has consistently refused to commit to it, keeping the political stage of the plan a secret.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally, has his own domestic problems, and faces an election and possible corruption charges. He denies any wrongdoing.

“We’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly and with openness,” Netanyahu said on Sunday. No Israeli ministers will attend, but an Israeli business delegation is expected.

Palestinian leaders have boycotted the workshop, and are refusing to engage with the White House - accusing it of pro-Israel bias after a series of recent Trump decisions. Kushner told Reuters that “some” Palestinian businessmen would attend.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was scathing about its prospects of success.

“Money is important. The economy is important. But politics are more important. The political solution is more important,” he said.

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, has found itself in rare agreement with its arch-rival Abbas.

Hamas official Mushir al-Masri the Trump approach “seeks to turn our political cause into a humanitarian cause, and to merge the occupation into the region.”

Kushner said that even without the Israeli and Palestinian governments represented, the presence of Israeli business officials and journalists with their counterparts from the Arab world would be significant.

Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Stephen Farrell; Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Rami Ayyub in Ramallah; Writing by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Peter Cooney and Angus MacSwan

 

Persian Gulf

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Only half of the $50billion is for Palestine, the rest for the surrounding countries to absorb Palestinian refugees.

What does that mean? It means no right of return.

The economic plan also does not say "Palestine State" once!

No mention of East Jerusalem either - so the non-State will not even have East Jerusalem as its non-capital.


This conflict is not about money, the Palestinians will not sell out their entire history for a few billion dollars. Maybe Trump doesn't understand this because he's a businessman and he thinks there is a price to buy everything.
 

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Saudi Arabia: Palestinian initiative ‘a great opportunity to bring prosperity and opportunities’
Arab News
June 26, 2019
View attachment 8565
Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan speaking during a panel discussion in Bahrain on a plan for Palestinian economic prosperity. (Screengrab)

  • UAE’s Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer said "we should give this initiative a chance."
  • Tony Blair insists to Jared Kushner that there must be a two-state solution
MANAMA: Saudi Arabia's Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said Wednesday the Kingdom will support whatever economic plan will bring prosperity to the Palestinians.

Speaking on the second day of an international conference on a US initiative to improve the economic plight of Gaza and the West Bank, Al-Jadaan said he was “very, very optimistic” about the plan.

“The region is in desperate need of prosperity and hope and we and our colleagues share the view that whatever brings prosperity to this region, we will support it,” he said, alongside US Treasury Secretary, Steven Mnuchin and the Bahraini and Emirati finance ministers.

“We have been a great supporter of Palestine for decades … so its not something we are going to shy away from and we will continue supporting the Palestinians,” Al-Jadaan added.

LIVE: Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan says we have started seeing positive spillover from Vision 2030 into the region. peace to prosperity workshop #PeaceToProsperity #BahrainConference pic.twitter.com/Mkr1HKqwYL
— Arab News (@arabnews) June 26, 2019
The initiative was outlined by Donald Trump's senior advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner on Tuesday as the conference in Bahrain got under way. The $50 billion economic formula would see investment in infrastructure, tourism and education.


Palestinian leaders have accused the plan of legitimising Israel’s occupation of their territory and for being secondary to a political resolution to the conflict. But on the second day of the conference, both Arab and western political leaders, ministers and business chiefs discussed what needed to be done to make the plan work.

Al-Jadaan said the plan was a “great opportunity” and that there was a “significant international commitment” to support the people of Palestine to bring prosperity and opportunities.

“You need political commitment, you need clear transparency, you need predictability for the private sector to join, you need the rule of law … and you want to make sure that there is proper governance in place,” he said.

The UAE’s Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer said "we should give this initiative a chance."

Earlier, Jared Kushner discussed the initiative with the former British prime minister Tony Blair, who insisted there still must be a two-state solution to the conflict. The White House has not said it backs the principle, and the political element of its plan has not yet been revealed.

LIVE: #JaredKushner says the leadership in #Gaza has to "change their business plan" because it hasn't worked for the last 12 years. peace to prosperity workshop #PeaceToProsperity #BahrainConference pic.twitter.com/oUqhA2hYNm
— Arab News (@arabnews) June 26, 2019
"It's absolutely foolish to believe you can have economics without sound politics, but it's likewise completely futile to think politics will work without economics buttressing it," Blair told the gathering.

The foreign minister of Bahrain also reiterated the need for a two-state solution but said the plan was an "opportunity not to be missed".
"I think if we take this matter seriously it could be a very important game-changer," Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa said.

In an earlier panel, Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas said the initiative “will definitely require a lot of work but it is definitely achievable.”
Bahrain’s Labor Market CEO Osama Al-Absi, told the panel, entitled Empowering the People, “we must look at how post-war economies were built” in order to make the plan work.

International Monetary Fund managing director, Christine Lagarde, said generating economic growth in conflict-riven countries can be a struggle.

The IMF puts unemployment at 30 percent in the West Bank and 50 percent in Gaza, which has suffered years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades and recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas' rival in the Israeli-occupied West bank.

"Gaza right now is feeling a lot of pain because of bad leadership and the sanctions that have been imposed on them because of it," Kushner said. "So the question that (Hamas)leadership has to ask themselves is...do they hate their neighbour in Israel more than they love their citizens and their people?"

The 179 proposed infrastructure and business projects in the plan include a $5 billion transportation corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza, which has been floated before and stalled for lack of underlying political or security agreements.

Palestinian businessman Ashraf Jabari, chairman of the Palestinian Business Network, told the gathering it is difficult to build an economy with a "siege and unstable situation".

"Frankly, we demand an independent Palestinian state on the territories occupied by Israel in 1967," said the businessman from Hebron who has co-founded a trade group to boost business between Palestinians and Israeli settlers."

Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments attended the Bahrain meeting, which takes place amid a years-long stalemate in other international efforts to resolve the conflict.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi, speaking in Ramallah, said the Manama conference was "quite disingenuous".
"It is totally divorced from reality. The elephant in the room is the (Israeli) occupation itself," she said.
*With Reuters

 

Persian Gulf

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I thought KSA supported two state solution?

How can they sell out Palestinians for a plan that doesn't even mention the word Palestine? A plan that gives all of Jerusalem to Israel? A plan that doesn't recognise the Palestinian right of return? A plan that legitimises and annexes large parts of the West Bank's illegal settlements?


The Arab Peace Initiative was a good proposal, this deal is a total Zionist dream written by chief Zionists Kushner and Bibi...
 

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I thought KSA supported two state solution?

How can they sell out Palestinians for a plan that doesn't even mention the word Palestine? A plan that gives all of Jerusalem to Israel? A plan that doesn't recognise the Palestinian right of return? A plan that legitimises and annexes large parts of the West Bank's illegal settlements?


The Arab Peace Initiative was a good proposal, this deal is a total Zionist dream written by chief Zionists Kushner and Bibi...
This is purely economic as clearly stated in the article. It has nothing to do with politics nor Saudi own palestine to sell it. The peace initiative still on the table for Israel to accept.
 

Persian Gulf

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This is purely economic as clearly stated in the article. It has nothing to do with politics nor Saudi own palestine to sell it. The peace initiative still on the table for Israel to accept.
We can make deductions about the political side from this. For example, lots of specific projects mentioned for Gaza and Lebanon etc but no mention at all of East Jerusalem. Also lots of investment in neighbouring countries (Egypt, Lebanon) for the specific purpose of absorbing Palestinian refugees, aka no right of return.


This isn't a conflict about money, it's about land and recognition of sovereignty and other symbolic rights.
 

Eagle1

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We can make deductions about the political side from this. For example, lots of specific projects mentioned for Gaza and Lebanon etc but no mention at all of East Jerusalem. Also lots of investment in neighbouring countries (Egypt, Lebanon) for the specific purpose of absorbing Palestinian refugees, aka no right of return.


This isn't a conflict about money, it's about land and recognition of sovereignty and other symbolic rights.
Something, surprisingly pre-1948 the Palestinians didn't think of, when they sold thier land and houses at above market rates to Jewish settlers. But yet here we have you, shedding tears of blood for them.
 

Persian Gulf

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Something, surprisingly pre-1948 the Palestinians didn't think of, when they sold thier land and houses at above market rates to Jewish settlers. But yet here we have you, shedding tears of blood for them.
Ridiculous comment. If you want to support this "deal" designed by rabid Zionists in Kushner and Bibi then say why it's a good deal and why it's better than the Arab Peace Initiative put forth by the Arab League.
 

Eagle1

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Ridiculous comment. If you want to support this "deal" designed by rabid Zionists in Kushner and Bibi then say why it's a good deal and why it's better than the Arab Peace Initiative put forth by the Arab League.
Well to a Mullah lover everything sounds ridiculous, except for rabid mullah rhetoric.
 

Persian Gulf

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Well to a Mullah lover everything sounds ridiculous, except for rabid mullah rhetoric.


In my opinion, the Arab Peace Initiative was the best framework to resolve the I/P issue. But Israel did not like it (because they never wanted a Palestinian state and Bibi has staked his electoral mandate and not allowing a Palestinian state), so Kushner made a new deal to give Israelis everything they want and try to get the Arabs on board. I'm not saying don't give it a chance, but if it doesn't meet any of the core Palestinian interests then of course it's a deal that has no chance of gaining traction.
 

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