$50 billion plan to be discussed next week in Bahrain
Arabs reject Kushner ‘economy first’ approach, regard it as “non-starter” and “dead on arrival”
Arab League renew pledge to give Palestinians $100m in aid monthly
Arab politicians and commentators greeted US 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 neighbouring 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 yesterday.
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.”
Meanwhile, The Arab League yesterday reaffirmed a pledge to pay $100 million a month to the Palestinian Authority, a day after Washington unveiled its Middle East peace plan.
They also insisted, in an implicit rebuke to the White House’s economic plan, on the “complete Arab support to the Palestinian state’s economic, political and financial independence”.
Egyptian liberal and leftist parties slammed the workshop as an attempt to “consecrate and legitimise” occupation of Arab land and said in a joint statement that any Arab participation would be “beyond the limits of normalisation” 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.
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 neighbouring hosts of millions of Palestinian refugees to integrate them.
Jawad al-Anani, a former senior Jordanian politician, described widespread suspicion after Trump’s decisions to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognise 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.”
Kushner’s economic proposals will be discussed at the US-led gathering in Bahrain this week. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting and the White House did not invite the Israeli government.