The United States officially launches the economic bit of its Mideast peace plan in Bahrain Tuesday, despite widespread rejection it continues to receive from Palestinians weary of the proposal.
White House adviser Jared Kushner is leading the start of the Trump administration’s two-day Peace to Prosperity economic conference in Manama. Although it won’t include representatives of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the event featured multiple Middle East diplomats, investors and other officials at what’s described as a “workshop” to iron out economic details of the peace plan.
The U.S. plan suggests infusing $50 billion into the Palestinian economy in what Trump has called the “deal of the century.”
Expected to speak at the conference are Kushner, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, International Monetary Fund director Christine Lagarde and FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
“In order to chart a path towards sustainable economic prosperity for the West Bank, Gaza and the region, stakeholders will have to engage the valuable experience of global leaders with an astute grasp of the region’s realities,” the program for the event said.
“Only by reflecting upon lessons learned in other settings around the world can the West Bank, Gaza and the region build a strong platform for economic growth and development.”
Palestinian officials are boycotting the event, saying the proposed deal is a “pie-in-the-sky” concept and a “snow job” that doesn’t address any of the root causes of the decades-long conflict.
“I don’t think that they’re being realistic about how hard it is,” Dave Harden, a former USAID mission director for the West Bank and Gaza, said. “Even if you have the money, implementation can be an immense challenge.”
Palestinians have long pushed for a two-state solution known as the Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalization of relations in exchange for an Israeli withdrawal from territories it seized during the Six Day War in 1967, including East Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the West Bank. Kushner told Al Jazeera Tuesday a more likely solution is a compromise.
“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,” he said. “It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and between the Israeli position.”
“We’ve been working very carefully on a very detailed proposal for what we think can help bring this conflict, which has been stuck, forward,” he added. “We’re hopeful that we’ll be able to put that out soon and hopefully parties will be responsible, they’ll engage on it and they’ll try to move forward.”
Kushner is scheduled to speak at the conference at about noon EDT Tuesday.