“President Trump and America have not given up on you,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner declared on Tuesday in Bahrain, appealing directly to the Palestinian people.
President Trump’s senior adviser, Jared Kushner, appealed Tuesday directly to the Palestinians, asking them to consider his ambitious $50 billion economic plan despite Palestinian leadership’s outright rejection of the proposal, even before it was ever released, as was reported by AP.
Kushner kicked off a two-day workshop in the tiny Gulf kingdom of Bahrain aimed at building support for his economic vision, according to a World Israel News report.
“My direct message to the Palestinians is that despite what those who have let you down in the past have told you, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” Kushner said, “This workshop is for you and if this is executed correctly it will lead to a better future for the Palestinian people: a future of dignity, prosperity and opportunity.”
World Israel News reported that Kushner’s audience in Bahrain did not include any official Israeli or Palestinian delegation. Those who heard Kushner in person were Arab finance ministers, the heads of international financial organizations and global business executives and investors.
Specifically, the heads of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are attending and speaking at the event, as will the head of FIFA, the international soccer federation, and the managers of numerous large investment funds.
Without seeing its contents, the Palestinians rejected the proposal, according to an AP report, which aims in 10 years to create a million new jobs, slash unemployment and improve living standards in Judea and Samaria, Gaza and across the Middle East. U.S. officials say the political portion of the plan addressing borders and other key issues will not be released until fall, according to the AP report.
The WIN report indicated that Kushner acknowledged that a political solution is key to the success of the economic proposal. He said it was first more important to set out what is economically possible.
“Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving what has been a previously unsolvable political situation,” he said.
Meanwhile, Palestinian terror group Hamas called a general strike in Gaza on Tuesday to protest the meeting, with demonstrators in Judea and Samaria burning effigies of Trump and featuring a donkey pasted over with images of Gulf royals, according to the report by AP and World Israel News.
“Palestine is not for sale!” protesters chanted. “From Bahrain to Saudi Arabia we are not tempted by your millions!” they said.
Trump, Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin argue that a new approach is necessary to jump start the peace process in the Middle East because previous efforts have resulted in an abysmal failure in terms of the two sides reaching an agreement.
The Palestinians cut ties with the White House after Trump officially recognized Israeli’s capital, Jerusalem, in December 2017, and say they will not accept a peace proposal from the Trump administration.
Trump’s Mideast team has recently signaled it will accept Israeli annexation of parts of Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of the Jewish people, deepening Palestinian suspicions.
Saudi Arabia, one of the few Arab countries to send its foreign minister to the event, said it remained committed to a Palestinian state, issuing the following statement: “The Kingdom reiterates its firm position on the Palestinian cause and solving it in accordance with the Arab Peace Initiative, which called for establishing an independent Palestinian state along the borders of 1967 with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
Egypt and Jordan, the only Arab nations to have signed peace deals with Israel, are sending mid-level representatives to Bahrain and said they would not abandon demands for a Palestinian state, according to the AP and WIN reports.
At a ceremony hosted by Israel’s president to mark 40 years of Egyptian-Israeli peace on Tuesday, Egypt’s ambassador to Israel, Khaled Azmi, said his country’s “vision was, and still is, based on full nation-statehood and security for everyone in the region.”
Bahrain, which has close ties to the Saudis, has been criticized for hosting the conference and sharply limited the number of journalists allowed to cover it. It has defended its decision by saying its only objective is to support the “brotherly Palestinian people.”
On Monday, Jewish Voice Israel correspondent David Ha’Ivri filed a detailed report concerning Palestinian business leaders who made a pit stop in the Samaria region of Israel to meet regional council head Yossi Dagan while on their way to the Bahrain conference.
According to Ha’Ivri’s report this scheduled meeting was conducted “under the radar” because of the negative fallout that would likely occur if the Palestinian government leadership caught wind of the fact that entrepreneurs were actually discussing business matters with Israelis. Ha’Ivri writes that the parties stressed that they both share the same core goal – “a better future for our children, and establishing a platform for economic cooperation between the Jewish residents and the local Arabs who are living in despair.”
The meeting is a continuation of a series of meetings and contacts held by the head of the Samaria Regional Council with the local Arab leadership, in order to create an alternative to the path of terror funded by the Palestinian Authority and to create economic cooperation that will bring genuine prosperity to all sides.
Dagan met with Ashraf Ja’abri, who left for Bahrain on Monday morning and with other delegates who wished to keep their identities anonymous from the intrusive eye of the media.
Last month, Dagan was honored as a guest for the traditional ‘Iftar’ dinner at the home of Ashraf Jabari in Hebron. He also traveled to Washington, DC with Sheikh Abu Khalil Tamimi from Ramallah and together held meetings on Capitol Hill to promote the economic peace plan.
During the meeting on Monday, Dagan said: “In recent years, we have seen Arab Sheikhs and leaders working to create a true connection between Arabs and Jews in Judea and Samaria. We respect each other, and if God put us here in the same land, we have to see how to honor each other. For the first time, we are not watching agreements being drafted between politicians who are not connected to the ground, but seeing local leaders coming together to discuss economic cooperation, which is what can bring peace. This is where it can happen “.
Jabari told Dagan at the meeting: “We are interested in building a large industrial park like the one here at Barkan that can employ thousands of workers who will be able to provide for their families and we want to build a hospital in Hebron. 25 years have passed since the Oslo Accords. What are the results? Only blood. We have to talk about how we will live. We must establish a strong economic situation and give livelihood to the people.”
Despite the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to send official representatives to the economic workshop in Bahrain, and despite their general rejection of the American initiative, a number of independent Palestinian businessmen decided to attend the summit.
Jabari is considered friendly to the Jewish settlers and close to American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman. “We’ll go to Bahrain, we’ll look and hear what is proposed there. This is an opportunity for the Palestinian people because it will strengthen our economy,” the businessman said. “There are another eight or nine businessmen who are going to this conference with me, and we talked about this situation and they told me: ‘This is really the best plan for the Palestinian people”.
Dagan said that instead of “peace in the bonds between disconnected politicians, a connection must be made through the area, through the area and through economic investments.” Jabari replied that “peace will come from the bottom up, but what happened here 25 years ago came from top to bottom. (referring to foreign intervention and plans from realities on the ground).
The Palestinian businessman referred to the criticism on their decision to go to the summit, claiming that he believed it was an opportunity to advance the idea of a Palestinian state. “How can we reach a political solution without a strong economic situation?” he queried.
In a letter to Jewish Voice publisher David Ben Hooren, American Jewish Congress President Jack Rosen offered his organization’s perspective on the promising nature of the Bahrain summit.
Rosen wrote that the Bahrain conference represents “an opportunity to re-enter a process which has the potential to propel the Middle East towards a better future.”
He added that, “Despite the natural, and understandable, skepticism surrounding the workshop, we (the AJC) firmly believe that engagement on economic issues can be a springboard for further dialogue and engagement. We are proud to have been involved in similar economic development initiatives since the 1990’s, with the belief that providing a sound economic foundation for the Palestinians makes peace more viable in the future.”
“We believe that if the Palestinians are given a sense that they stand to lose by not engaging, there is a greater chance they will embrace the process – both economically and politically. In addition, the plan must create an incentive for the Palestinian people to pressure their leadership to abandon its boycott of the U.S. administration, and return to full engagement.”
Rosen wrote that participation of key Arab states in the conference – Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, the UAE and even regional adversaries Saudi Arabia and Qatar – “proves that there is growing concern in the region, as well as a desire to give this process a chance.”
He also indicated his belief that “enlisting the Arab states to invest in the future can be a game-changer, and we hope their participation will be help move the region closer towards peace. Much like the regional efforts to counter Iran’s malign activities, we hope the region’s leading powers will coalesce around the objective of assisting the Palestinians move towards a better future.”
Rosen concluded his letter by saying, “we also believe that the economic discussions cannot replace a genuine political process – one which must aim to resolve the core issues that at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. A solid economic foundation can only be sustained if it is followed up by a good-faith effort to address the Palestinian aspiration for self-determination, and to ensure Israel continues to exist as a peaceful, secure democratic Jewish state. History has shown that disillusionment can lead to violence, and we caution all parties that unless steps are taken on the political track, the results may be highly destructive.
“Greater economic opportunity can help the next generation of Palestinians to choose partnership over extremism and peace over terrorism. We are hopeful that the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain will indeed provide the foundation for prosperity and will ultimately be combined with an honest political process. This is a first–but necessary–step toward a true Israeli-Palestinian peace and help present a better future for the region.”
(World Israel News, AP)
Read more at: worldisraelnews.com
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