Ahead of June 25-26 Bahrain conference, Trump team releases proposal for $50 billion package that’s supposed to transform economy of West Bank, Gaza and surrounding nations
Days before the US-sponsored Bahrain conference, the White House released its proposal to boost the Palestinian economy by offering a $50 billion aid package that can only be implemented through an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
The 40-page plan, which Senior Adviser Jared Kushner will push in Manama next week, rests on three initiatives, according to the document — to “unleash the economic potential” of the Palestinians, “empower the Palestinians to realize their ambitions,” and “enhance Palestinian governance.”
Neither Israelis nor Palestinians will be attending the confab. Palestinians have refused to participate, or engage at all with the Trump administration since it moved the US embassy to Jerusalem. Israeli officials and ministers were not invited.
A senior administration official told The Times of Israel that they wanted the focus of the gathering to be “on the economic aspect, not the political.”
Arab nations such as Egypt, Jordan, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia have all said they would participate in the conference.
The plan — formally dubbed “Peace to Prosperity” — said that the economic package, if implemented, would double the Palestinians’ gross domestic product, create more than one million jobs in the territories, reduce Palestinian unemployment to single digits (it was 31 percent in 2018, according to the World Bank), and cut the Palestinian poverty rate by 50%.
The White House envisions the plan being funded mostly by Arab states and wealthy private investors. Most of that money would go directly to the West Bank and Gaza, but some, according to the plan, would be funneled to neighboring countries like Jordan and Egypt.
The $50 billion would be divided through $26 billion in loans, $13.5 billion in grants and $11 billion in private investment.
The proposal does include a number of specific projects, including border crossing updates, power plant upgrades, infrastructure improvements to boost tourism, career counseling and job placement service, and re-building and modernizing Palestinian hospitals and health clinics.
It also calls for linking the West Bank and Gaza, which is currently ruled by the Hamas terror group, with a modern transportation network, including high-speed rail service. Such ideas have been floated in the past in previous peace proposals but have run into Israeli security concerns.
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