AIn the end, the White House put its forty-paged economic plan for the Palestinian Territories on the Internet without further explanation. For two years, Jared Kushner, the son-in-law of the American president, worked on it. The Palestinian leadership in Ramallah and Gaza flatly rejected him. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who spoke to the press on the issue of Iran on Sunday, did not say a word to him.
It is a ten-year funding program worth fifty billion dollars. It is entitled Peace to Prosperity and promises to double the gross national product of the Palestinians. However, from whom the promised money should come, remains uncertain. Kushner said he hopes to involve Arab and private investors. The paper appeared a few days before a conference in Bahrain that prompted America. There, Tuesday, American and low-ranking Arab representatives without direct Israeli and Palestinian participation will discuss financial issues in a “workshop”.
The paper does not deal with political and security issues. Neither the possibility of a Palestinian state nor the Israeli military occupation, neither the limited Palestinian freedom of movement nor the illegal settlement of the Palestinian territories are mentioned. Various observers criticize the plan as being detached from the political reality. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in front of a group of international journalists on Sunday that a solution without a diplomatic and political background would not succeed. “We need economic help,” Abbas said, but he would not accept turning a political issue into an economic one, “we will not be slaves or servants of Jared Kushner.”
In contrast, Kushner promises in his brochure that “private property rights and legal protection for business owners are prerequisites for sustainable economic development”. In this context, the paper refers to the “authoritative Palestinian authorities” without becoming more specific. “Who could that be?” Asks Palestinian businessman Sam Bahour. “It can not be the PLO, because Trump has closed their office in Washington. It can not be the state of Palestine, “because America does not recognize it.
The plan also promises “financial and technical support to build the skills of immigration and customs officials who operate the crossings in coordination with neighboring states.” That these capabilities presuppose a form of statehood remains unmentioned, as well as what they might look like.
In addition, the brochure is in some places contrary to the policy of the American government. Kushner also promises $ 900 million in health care in the Palestinian territories, despite Trump's total cessation of aid payments to Palestinian-owned hospitals in East Jerusalem last year. The paper also includes photos of relief projects that Washington also discontinued last year – since the Palestinian leadership refused to cooperate with Trump for moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem without final status negotiations.
An “opportunity of the century”?
Israel also has reasons to reject Kushner's business plan. Because he foresees a land connection between the West Bank and Gaza. It should cost five billion dollars. This contradicts Netanyahu's policy of keeping the two Palestinian territories separate. Without a united Palestinian leadership, there is no reason for official peace negotiations. Other proposals Kushner would require Israeli approval. The proposal is to extend the mobile standard to 5G, although Israel recently allowed the Palestinians a 3G network. Kuzhner's brochure also describes the transformation of the Gaza Strip into a tourist destination, similar to Hong Kong or Tel Aviv. This would require a sea or airport that Israel does not allow so far.
Eran Etzion, former head of the Israeli National Security Council, told Jedioth Ahronot newspaper that Kushner's plan had no real innovation compared to previous initiatives. “He promotes Palestinian dependence on the Israeli economy in many ways and is against Israeli interests.” Thus, Kushner promise also a regulation on private land ownership of the Palestinians. That will never be allowed by the current government in Israel.
Kushner called his proposal on the weekend an “opportunity of the century”. Israeli media speculated that the sheer sum of Kushner's promises could have the goal of turning the Palestinian public against their leadership, which has so far rejected the plan. However, Washington has not yet distributed the booklet in Arabic. Ramallah and Gaza are already portrayed as naysayers by the Israeli side. This is another reason why Netanyahu no longer needs to express himself. Kushner said his political plan will follow at a later date. Some now assume that he never comes.
Jared Kushner (t) Benjamin Netanyahu (t) Donald Trump (t) Djibril Rajoub (t) Mahmoud Abbas (t) White House (t) Dollars