• Tuesday, Nov 24, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:52 pm

Kushner's economic plan for Mideast peace faces broad Arab rejection

  • Published at 03:09 pm June 23rd, 2019
Jared Kushner
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner is interviewed by Reuters at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, US, June 20, 2019 Reuters

In Israel, Tzachi Hanegbi, a cabinet member close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, called Palestinians' rejection of the $50 billion 'peace to prosperity' plan tragic

US President Donald Trump's economic vision as part of the wider plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was met with contempt, repudiation and exasperation in the Arab world, even as 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, called Palestinians' rejection of the $50 billion "peace to prosperity" plan tragic.

The blueprint, set to be presented by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner at a conference in Bahrain on June 25-26, envisions a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies.

But 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, prominent commentators and ordinary citizens denounced Kushner's proposals in strikingly similar terms: "colossal waste of time," "non-starter," "dead on arrival."

"Homelands cannot be sold, even for all the money in the world," Egyptian analyst Gamal Fahmy said. "This plan is the brainchild of real estate brokers, not politicians. Even Arab states that are described as moderate are not able to openly express support for it."

Commentator Sarkis Naoum at Lebanon's An-Nahar newspaper said, "This economic plan, like others, won't succeed because it has no political foundation."

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.

'A little more trust'

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 as far as the Palestinians were concerned.

"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 US 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 and with the bulk of the funds shouldered by Gulf Arab states. A deal with Arab money."

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