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Palestinians reject US peace plan

June 22, 2019

Palestinian officials have described as "abstract promises" a new $50 billion investment plan for the Palestinian economy. The Palestinian Authority will boycott a two-day peace conference in Bahrain next week.

A Gaza City suburb after an Israeli air strike
Image: Reuters/S. Salem

The White House's formal announcement of a $50 billion (€43 billion) investment and infrastructure plan to help achieve Middle East peace was immediately rejected by the Palestinian Authority on Saturday.

Dubbed the Deal of the Century, the proposal calls for a mix of public and private financing to create at least a million new jobs for Palestinians with more than half of the cash to be spent in the economically troubled Palestinian territories.

But the 10-year plan's viability was immediately called into question when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his opposition and confirmed he would boycott a two-day Peace to Prosperity conference scheduled for Tuesday in Bahrain.

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) official Hanan Ashrawi, meanwhile, said the plan was "all abstract promises" and said only a political solution would solve the decades-long conflict.

'Not for sale'

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, was more blunt, insisting: "Palestine isn't for sale."

Read more: Quds rallies in Iran condemn Trump's Middle East peace plan

Israel, however, welcomed the proposal, which forms part of the White House's long-awaited peace plan — led by US President Donald Trump's advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt.

The White House hailed the investment as having "the ability to fundamentally transform the West Bank and Gaza and to open a new chapter in Palestinian history — one defined, not by adversity and loss, but by freedom and dignity."

Mahmoud Abbas and Jared Kushner
White House senior advisor Jared Kushner (left) hopes Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will consider the planImage: REUTERS

It said that the cash would be administered by a multinational development bank, not the Palestinian Authority, to ensure better governance and prevent corruption.

Read more: Products from Israeli-occupied areas and settlements should be labeled — EU court adviser

The proposal focuses on 179 infrastructure, tourism, agriculture and education projects for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, along with help for Palestinians living in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

Will the rich step up?

US officials hope private investors, along with wealthy Gulf states, will foot much of the bill. However, the economic revival plan will only go ahead if a political solution is reached to the moribund Israeli-Palestinian political peace process.

Mideast Conflict: No Song of Peace?

Several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, will participate in the June 25-26 gathering in Bahrain's capital, Manama, for Kushner's rollout of the first phase of the peace plan.

Palestinian leaders remain deeply distrustful of the Trump administration, accusing it of seeking to buy them off and deprive them of an independent state existing alongside Israel.

Read more: Open appeal to EU over Middle East two-state solution

Trump's administration has upended decades of US policy towards the region by backing away from the term "two-state solution" and by moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city claimed by both sides.

The political component of Kushner's peace plan is expected to be announced later in the year, once Israel has a new government in place.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition following elections in April, so the country will go to the polls again in September.

mm/aw (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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