• Deal of the Century, First Drops

    The White House will announce Sunday afternoon the first part of its Middle East peace proposal, what officials are calling an economic “workshop” to encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region, a senior administration official tells CNN • Full Story

    The White House will announce Sunday afternoon the first part of its Middle East peace proposal, what officials are calling an economic “workshop” to encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region, a senior administration official tells CNN.

    The workshop will take place in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25 and 26, bringing together finance ministers with global and regional business leaders. The effort is being headed by Jared Kushner, the senior White House adviser and President’s son-in-law, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt, who have spent years developing the proposal along with the much stickier political component, which officials said would be announced later in the year.
    Asked for comment, Kushner told CNN in a statement that “people are letting their grandfathers’ conflict destroy their children’s futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist.”
    The plan will discuss four major components the senior administration official said: infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people, and governance reforms “to make the area as investible as possible.” Kushner is said to have modeled details of the economic proposal on what has worked in Poland, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.
    The workshop will attempt to studiously avoid the many political issues that have made peace so elusive for so long: issues such as whether the Palestinians will get their own state, the status of Jerusalem, measures Israel takes in the name of security, and what should happen with Palestinians and their descendants who fled or were expelled from Israel around the time of the state’s creation in 1948. Finance ministers, but not foreign ministers, will be invited along with delegations of business leaders.
    “We recognize that this needs to go hand in hand with the political plan, but this will be the first chance to roll out details of the economic plan,” the official said, adding that this will be an opportunity to show Palestinians, Jordanians, Israelis and the Lebanese that “CEOs care about them and want to be investing in the area.”
    Kushner is calling the event a “workshop” rather than a summit, the official said, because he is relying on feedback to the proposal from the many speakers and other participants invited, including from the Palestinian territories.
    “We think this will showcase the potential of the entire region,” the official said. “If there’s peace, it will touch on not only the West Bank and Gaza but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The economies will become integrated.”
    “Think about how much money is spent on bullets right now,” said the official. “If it could be spent on infrastructure and human capital, think about how much better the region could be.”
    The official denied that the rollout was being done this way so as to present a vision of a more prosperous Palestinian territory so as to encourage greater concessions in any political talks down the line.
    “It’s tough to digest both the economic and political proposals at once, since they’re both very detailed proposals,” the official said.
    Palestinian and other Arab leaders have previously expressed skepticism about Kushner’s plan, given how staunchly the Trump administration has supported Israel and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and recognizing Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, while suspending funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees.

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