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Jonathan Fairfield

U.S. to unveil 'economy first' approach to Mideast peace atBahrain conference

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U.S. to unveil 'economy first' approach to Mideast peace atBahrain conference

By Matt Spetalnick and Stephen Farrell

 

2019-06-24T211407Z_2_LYNXNPEF5N1VJ_RTROPTP_4_ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-PLAN-BAHRAIN.JPG

Workers place a banner at the pavilion where the U.S. hosted event "Peace to Prosperity" takes place outside Four Seasons Hotel in Manama, Bahrain June 24, 2019. REUTERS/Matt Spetalnick

 

MANAMA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - The first stage of President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan will be launched in Bahrain on Tuesday at a conference the White House touts as a bid to drum up $50 billion in investment but which Palestinians deride as an "economy first" approach doomed to fail.

 

The two-day international meeting, led by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been billed as the first part of Washington's long-delayed broader political blueprint to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be unveiled at a later date.

 

But neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments will attend the curtain-raising event in the Bahraini capital, Manama.

 

There will be close scrutiny as to whether attendees such as Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf Arab states show any interest in making actual donations to a U.S. plan that has already elicited bitter criticism from Palestinians and many others in the Arab world.

Bahrain, a close American ally and home to the U.S. Navy's Fifth Fleet, has been making preparations for weeks.

 

Although the event is supposed to focus on economics, Gulf Arab states hope it will also be used to show their solidarity with the Trump administration over its hard line against Iran, a senior Gulf diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

 

Under the plan, donor nations and investors would contribute about $50 billion to the region, with $28 billion going to the Palestinian territories - the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip - as well as $7.5 billion to Jordan, $9 billion to Egypt and $6 billion for Lebanon.

 

 

Among 179 proposed infrastructure and business projects is a $5 billion transport corridor to connect the West Bank and Gaza.

 

"I laugh when they attack this as the ‘deal of the century,’" Kushner told Reuters, referring to the lofty nickname that Trump’s peace plan has assumed over the past two years.

 

"This is going to be the ‘opportunity of the century’ if they have the courage to pursue it."

 

Kushner, a senior Trump adviser who like his father-in-law comes from the world of New York real estate, is presenting his plan in a pair of pamphlets filled with graphs and statistics that resemble an investment prospectus – in fact, he has repeatedly called it a "business plan."

 

PEACE TO PROSPERITY

 

Expectations for success are low. The Trump team concedes that the economic plan - billed "Peace to Prosperity" - will be implemented only if a political solution to one of the world’s most intractable conflicts is reached.

 

Any such solution would have to settle long-standing issues such as the status of Jerusalem, mutually agreed borders, satisfying Israel's security concerns and Palestinian demands for statehood, and the fate of Israel's settlements and military presence in territory in Palestinians want to build that state.

 

In an interview with Al Jazeera set to air on Tuesday, Kushner offered a rare glimpse into the possible political contours of the plan, saying a deal would not adhere to the Arab Peace Initiative, a Saudi-led plan that has been the Arab consensus on the necessary elements for a Palestinian deal since 2002.

 

"I think we all have to recognise that if there ever is a deal, it's not going to be along the lines of the Arab Peace Initiative. It will be somewhere between the Arab Peace Initiative and between the Israeli position," Kushner told Al Jazeera.

 

The Arab Peace Initiative calls for a Palestinian state drawn along borders that predate Israel's capture of territory in a 1967 war as well as a capital in east Jerusalem and the right of return for refugees, points rejected by Israel.

 

Hanging over the entire initiative are persistent questions about whether the Trump team plans to abandon the "two-state solution," which involves creation of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

 

The United Nations and most nations back the two-state solution and it has underpinned every peace plan for decades.

 

But the Trump team - led by Kushner, Trump's Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman - has consistently refused to commit to it, keeping the political stage of the plan a tightly guarded secret.

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close Trump ally, has his own domestic problems, facing an election, and possible corruption charges after a long-running police investigation. He denies any wrongdoing.

 

"We'll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly and with openness," Netanyahu said on Sunday. Although no Israeli government ministers will attend, an Israeli business delegation is expected.

 

Palestinian leaders have boycotted the workshop, and are refusing to engage with the White House - accusing it of pro-Israel bias after a series of recent Trump decisions. Kushner told Reuters that "some" Palestinian businessmen would be present, but declined to name them.

 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority exercises limited self-rule in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, was scathing about its prospects of success.

 

"Money is important. The economy is important. But politics are more important. The political solution is more important," he said.

 

Hamas, the Islamist militant group that controls Gaza, has found itself in rare agreement with its arch-rival Abbas.

 

"The Palestinian people only and no one else can represent the Palestinian cause," Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said.

 

He said the Trump approach "seeks to turn our political cause into a humanitarian cause, and to merge the occupation into the region."

 

Kushner said that even without the Israeli and Palestinian governments represented, the presence of Israeli business officials and journalists with their counterparts from the Arab world would be significant at a time of rising tensions with Iran.

 

"People realise that the real threat to that region is Iran and their aggression, and Israel and a lot of the other Arab states have a lot more in common today than they did before," he said.

 

David Makovsky, a Washington-based Middle East expert, agreed that although the principal focus of the event was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "Iran is higher on the chain of interest right now."

 

But Makovsky, whom the White House has invited as an observer, said the Trump/Kushner plan would ultimately succeed or fail on how it addressed the big underlying issues, not the money. "No one believes you can solve this thing economically without addressing the political issues."

 

(Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Stephen Farrell; Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza and Rami Ayyub in Ramallah; Writing by Stephen Farrell; Editing by Peter Cooney)

 

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-- © Copyright Reuters 2019-06-25

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Posted (edited)
10 minutes ago, Tug said:

Why would they believe trump how many bankruptcy’s?deficet exploding during strong economic times over 2,000 lies in 2 years don’t think they are going to buy it not for a minute 

 

Let's say Trump has had a dozen bankruptcies over the years. Currently, "Trump" is around 500 companies. Over the years, there have been thousands of companies.

Edited by Curt1591

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1 hour ago, OneMoreFarang said:

It's amazing that people are still listening how the USA wants to solve problems in countries far away from them.

They can't even solve the problem within the USA with their own citizens. How can anybody expect that they will be able to solve the problems of other countries?

 

If they want to do something to solve the problems with Palestine and Israel then they should stop giving billions, mostly in form of modern war weapons, only to Israel. Don't give money and weapons to Israel or give the same weapons and money also to Palestine. Then let them sort our their problems locally without US intervention.

 

And it's time that the world demands that countries are treated equally. The USA fights Iran because they think Iran want's nuclear weapons. Even the US admits they don't have those weapons. And at the same time Israel has since forever undeclared nuclear weapons. Everybody knows it. But somehow everybody pretends it's ok if one country has these weapons but it's bad if another country even thinks about them. And as usual, the USA is the leader of the countries which support those double standards.

And they want to bring peace to the world - what a crazy idea.

 

Do you know of any other country with enough international pull, regional influence and willingness to get involved that could take over? And following your own criteria, a country without domestic issues of its own.

 

Not that Iran is much on topic, or for that matter, nuclear proliferation - but there's that: Iran signed an international treaty and breached it, Israel did neither. The two other obvious differences being that once a country does have nuclear weapons the cat is out of the bag, and the other difference being (from the USA's perspective) Israel not being a hostile country.

 

None of this makes Kushner's "plan" any more realistic or trustworthy. I think it can be safely bashed on its own lack of merits without resorting to the usual piling in of every real and imagined complaint against the USA.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

It's amazing that people are still listening how the USA wants to solve problems in countries far away from them.

They can't even solve the problem within the USA with their own citizens. How can anybody expect that they will be able to solve the problems of other countries?

 

If they want to do something to solve the problems with Palestine and Israel then they should stop giving billions, mostly in form of modern war weapons, only to Israel. Don't give money and weapons to Israel or give the same weapons and money also to Palestine. Then let them sort our their problems locally without US intervention.

 

And it's time that the world demands that countries are treated equally. The USA fights Iran because they think Iran want's nuclear weapons. Even the US admits they don't have those weapons. And at the same time Israel has since forever undeclared nuclear weapons. Everybody knows it. But somehow everybody pretends it's ok if one country has these weapons but it's bad if another country even thinks about them. And as usual, the USA is the leader of the countries which support those double standards.

And they want to bring peace to the world - what a crazy idea.

agree America is seriously messed up now.  homelessness, crime, drugs, guns, corporate corruption, high medical cost, police brutality.   check out Santa Monica or SF if you don't believe me.  a real s-hole now.  i don't recognize it now.  a failed state. and Kushner is a ultra-orthodox jew to boot in his father in laws pockets.  hardly neutral.

Edited by malibukid
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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, OneMoreFarang said:

It's amazing that people are still listening how the USA wants to solve problems in countries far away from them.

They can't even solve the problem within the USA with their own citizens. How can anybody expect that they will be able to solve the problems of other countries?

 

If they want to do something to solve the problems with Palestine and Israel then they should stop giving billions, mostly in form of modern war weapons, only to Israel. Don't give money and weapons to Israel or give the same weapons and money also to Palestine. Then let them sort our their problems locally without US intervention.

 

And it's time that the world demands that countries are treated equally. The USA fights Iran because they think Iran want's nuclear weapons. Even the US admits they don't have those weapons. And at the same time Israel has since forever undeclared nuclear weapons. Everybody knows it. But somehow everybody pretends it's ok if one country has these weapons but it's bad if another country even thinks about them. And as usual, the USA is the leader of the countries which support those double standards.

And they want to bring peace to the world - what a crazy idea.

why can Israel have nukes and Iran can't? it's called MASD and it works.

Edited by malibukid

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8 hours ago, Curt1591 said:

Let's say Trump has had a dozen bankruptcies over the years. Currently, "Trump" is around 500 companies. Over the years, there have been thousands of companies.

Except that these were 4 devastating  bankruptcies which only his father's money bailed him out of. Trump seriously overpaid for assets 4 times. What kind of negotiator does that make him?

Without Daddy's rescues, Trump would only be a business footnote.

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, malibukid said:

why can Israel have nukes and Iran can't? it's called MASD and it works.

 

Mainly because it already got them, and due to not being a signatory to relevant international treaties. The first part relates to the difficulty of undoing the situation (prevention is easier than disarming), the second relates to the legal aspect (Iran was an NPT signatory, and the JCPOA came about following breaching the terms).

 

And no, there aren't any really good arguments for supporting  further nuclear proliferation. MAD included.

 

Funnily enough, the topic ain't much about Iran or nuclear weapons.

Edited by Morch

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