Published: Tue, May 21, 2019
Global Media | By Garry Long

United States to roll out economic part of Mideast peace plan

United States to roll out economic part of Mideast peace plan

The United States will hold an global economic "workshop" in Bahrain in late June to encourage investment in the Palestinian areas as the first part of President Donald Trump's coming Middle East peace plan, the White House says.

The White House announced Sunday that the Trump administration will release part of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan on June 25 and June 26 in Bahrain.

Gaza's ruling Hamas movement, shunned in the West for its hostility to Israel and locked in a power struggle with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's secular Fatah party, also condemned the Bahrain conference.

"Any plan without a political horizon will not lead to peace", Nabil Abu Rdeneh said. The US wants to ensure security for Israel and economic opportunity to improve the lives of Palestinians.

Bahrain Finance Minister Shaikh Salman bin Khalifa al Khalifa said the conference underscored close ties with the USA and the two countries' "strong and shared interest in creating thriving economic opportunities that benefit the region".

"The Cabinet wasn't consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome, nor timing", Mr Shtayyeh said.

It will not address critical political disputes that have stalled previous attempts, including the final borders of a future Palestinian state, a decision over who controls Jerusalem and what happens to millions of Palestinian refugees. This workshop is a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.

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Israel calls Jerusalem its indivisible capital and has said it might declare sovereignty in its West Bank settlements, which are deemed illegal by the United Nations and most foreign governments.

US presidents have attempted for decades to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We're looking not to make this about no discussion of the political" aspect of the plan at this time, the senior administration official said.

The economic portion of the administration's plan, which is being spearheaded by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been "met with very, very good feedback", the senior official said.

The Trump administration is building off a longstanding U.S. policy assumption, she said, that "economic prosperity of Palestinians and joint economic projects between [Israel and Palestinians] would improve standards of living and thereby pave the way for peace". But with details of the political aspects of the plan still under wraps, any commitments for economic development won't be easily attained. The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in late 2017, have shown little interest in discussing the plan.

"There's a tremendous amount of opportunity, the world is willing to step up and work on this", the official said. They want a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as their capital and the right for refugees and descendants to return to their land prior to the creation of Israel in 1948.

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