Kicking off the Trump administration’s international peace conference in Bahrain Tuesday, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner said his plan for the Middle East was “the opportunity of the century” for the Palestinians but their acceptance was a precondition to peace.
“Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues,” Kushner said as he opened the workshop in the Bahraini capital of Manama, which is being boycotted by the Palestinian Authority.
While the two-day meeting will not address political solutions in the Middle East, Kushner acknowledged the need to take them up later.
“To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict — one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people,” he said.
Kushner said the political talks would come, but asked his audience to focus at the summit on the region’s economic potential.
“Imagine a bustling commercial and tourist center in Gaza and the West Bank, where international businesses come together and thrive,” he said.
Kushner acknowledged widespread skepticism about the intentions of President Donald Trump, his father-in-law, who has taken an unapologetic pro-Israel line, including recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
But he said that the Palestinians have been ill-served by previous peace-making efforts.
“My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” Kushner said.
He dismissed the mocking description of his peace plan as the “deal of the century” but said: “This effort is better referred to as the Opportunity of the Century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it.”
Kushner expressed hope that those present could “come together and hopefully use this [conference] to change the course of history in the region.”
The economic plan, revealed by the White House on Saturday, calls for $50 billion in investment over 10 years in the West Bank, Gaza, and Arab neighboring countries.
“For too long the Palestinian people have been trapped in an inefficient framework of the past,” said Kushner, criticizing the “conventional wisdom” about peacemaking.
The Palestinians have rejected the proposal because it does not include a horizon for granting them independence. US officials say the political portion of the plan addressing such thorny issues may not be released until the fall.
Without proposals on borders, the status of Jerusalem and the fate of Palestinian refugees, the Palestinians say the economic plan is meaningless and are staging protests against the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop
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