Wednesday, July 24, 2019 | ePaper
Trump's son-in-law's economic plan for ME peace faces Arab rejection
Reuters, Riyadh :
Palestinians protest against the US-led economic workshop for Mideast plan, in Ramallah in the Israeli occupied West Bank.
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.
The $50 billion "peace to prosperity" plan, set to be presented by Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner at a conference in Bahrain next week, 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 that Israel would seek normal relations with.
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 with 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.
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.
Jawad al-Anani, a former senior Jordanian politician, described widespread suspicion after Trump's decisions to move the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognise 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."
Kushner's economic proposals will be discussed at a US-led gathering on June 25-26. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting and the White House did not invite the Israeli government.
US-allied Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, will take part along with officials from Egypt, Jordan and Morocco. Lebanon and Iraq will not attend.