US publishes economic plan for Palestinians

The White House published its economic vision for the Palestinians on Saturday ahead of the US-led “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain tomorrow.

The 40-page plan ‘Peace to Prosperity: A new vision for the Palestinian people and the broader Middle East’ includes three goals – unleash the economic potential of the Palestinians, empower the Palestinians to realise their ambitions, and enhance Palestinian governance.

The plan calls for $50bn of investment in the Palestinian territories over 10 years. Specific projects including border crossing improvements, power plant upgrades, infrastructure improvements to boost tourism, career counselling and job placement services, and re-building and modernising Palestinian hospitals and health clinics. It also proposes a modern transport network to link the West Bank and Gaza, including high-speed rail.

The plan doesn’t explain how the money will be raised but does suggest the creation of an international investment fund. Kushner said: “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.”

He added: “If you can also get that whole region starting to lift, and if you can get a quicker flow of goods and people in all the different areas that are necessary in industry instead of bullets and munitions and war, then I think that will really lead to a big increase in investment in the area and more jobs and better quality of life and hopefully more peace along with it.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told Fatah leaders in Ramallah yesterday: “There will be no Palestinian presence at the economic workshop in the Bahraini capital of Manama, since there can’t be an economic solution to the Palestinian problem before there is a political solution.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “We will listen to the US proposal in a fair and open manner. I can’t understand how the Palestinians rejected the plan before they even heard its contents. This is not the way to make progress.”

Blue and White co-leader MK Yair Lapid said it was a serious document and added: “There is no reason to object to it, particularly because not one word of it mentions the crazy idea of annexation, which would lead to a bi-national state that would destroy the Jewish state. Now a complementing diplomatic element has to arrive as well.”

Former US Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, said the plan was contradictory. “The Trump Administration has shut down aid programmes that support every one of the goals in this Palestinian economic plan. It is now pushing others to invest where we have divested,” Shapiro said. “What do you think the response is going to be?”