Trump advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner has spent years working on a plan to untangle the Israel and Palestine conflict. His general idea seems to be that economic investment will fix the conflict, not political negotiation. Unsurprisingly, the plan isn’t going well.
Kushner helped organize an investment conference in Manama, Bahrain, which is scheduled to begin on Tuesday. The conference is meant to create business for Palestinians by drawing wealthy investors to the region. But Palestinian government officials aren’t planning on attending. Israeli officials probably aren’t going either.
Now, it seems Kushner’s investment summit for Palestine may amount to nothing, according to the Washington Post.
From the Post:
By design, the two-day Peace to Prosperity session will not consider the most difficult elements of a potential peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, such as borders, land claims and the future of Jerusalem.
It will hash over an optimistic set of economic proposals released Saturday that envision some $50 billion in investment, infrastructure and tourism in the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in the neighboring countries of Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
The most ambitious idea is probably a new transit corridor through Israel that would connect the two Palestinian areas, something the current right-wing Israeli political coalition would be highly unlikely to accept.
Kushner is still trying to make it work.
“For too long the Palestinian people have been trapped in inefficient frameworks of the past,” Kushner said in a statement released by the White House. “The Peace to Prosperity plan is a framework for a brighter, more prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region and a vision of what is possible if there is peace.”
Palestinians say that the idea that the Israel-Palestine conflict could be fixed through economic advancement alone is... very optimistic, even according to rich Palestinians.
“Our problem is a political one, not an economic one,” Munib al Masri, a Palestinian billionaire, told the Post. “We have dignity, we have leadership, and they don’t want to go because they believe America is not an honest broker.”
al Masri believes that without the involvement of Palestinian or Israeli officials, Kushner’s whole exercise is pointless.
“It’s like going to the wedding and the bride and groom aren’t there,” he told the Post.
Palestinian leaders agree with al Masri.
“The issue is not the fact that the Palestinians will need investments or support,” Hanan Ashrawi, an official from the Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee, told the Post. “The issue is that we are not in charge of our own land, our own resources, our own boundaries, our own airspace, our own territorial waters, our own freedom of movement or anything.”
“America is reinventing the wheel again,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told reporters on Sunday. “Why do I need America to ask the Arab countries for money? I can go and ask the Arab countries myself for such funding.”
Ashrawi and Abbas are making sense here. Politics is obviously the only thing that will fix the massive difficulties Palestinians face. What good is corporate investment when you can’t get a legitimate passport or legally vote?
Read the rest of the story over at the Post.