White House Reveals Mideast Economic Peace Plan
But the Palestinians, insisting that they “cannot be bought,” have already rejected all efforts to better their lives
The “Peace to Prosperity” plan was posted by the White House on Saturday. The detailed and extensive plan proposes investing $50 billion over the next 10 years in the Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip with the goal of transforming the lives of Palestinians into a “thriving, modern, democratic society.”
Developed by Jaren Kushner in cooperation with a number of Middle East Arab countries, the economic plan is based on the idea that improving the daily lives of Palestinians will make them more willing to come to peace terms with Israel.
Some of the plan’s major goals include reducing the Palestinian unemployment rate to nearly single digits, creating over one million Palestinian jobs, doubling Palestinian gross domestic product and reducing the Palestinian poverty rate by 50 percent.
The plan includes a controversial proposal to construct a modern transportation network connecting the Palestinian territories in Judea and Samaria with the Gaza Strip, including modernized scanning and infrastructure at crossing points, roads and railroads. There are proposals to invest in making sure Palestinians have regular and affordable electricity and water in Gaza and the Palestinian territories, as well as enable high-speed data services.
A new university is part of the plan, as are hospitals and medical services.
According to the report, these programs and more are designed to use market principles and regional actors “for all key segments of the Palestinian economy and provide the foundation for prosperity supported by a robust private sector, an empowered people, and an effective government. Peace to Prosperity is a realistic and achievable plan that can be implemented by the Palestinians, with the support of the international community, to build a better future for the Palestinians and their children. This vision can ensure a future of dignity and opportunity for the Palestinian people.”
The plan makes no mention of any of the hot-button issues that have stalled all previous peace proposals, such as the boundaries of a future Palestinian state, the status of Palestinian refugees or a united Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The White House says that a proposal for a resolution on these and other political and geographical issues will be published in November, after Israel’s September elections.
Now that a bold regional economic plan proposing huge investments to improve the everyday lives of Palestinians has been released, Palestinians frustrated with their corrupt leadership could put pressure on Palestinian officials to reconsider the plan they rejected before even seeing it. The $50 billion investment promise will not be easy to ignore.
It will also be interesting to watch how Prime Minister Netanyahu and the other ministers looking to get elected in September respond to the US proposals, and how the Israeli public will vote in September vis-à-vis the Palestinians, Gaza and possible peace negotiations.