Thursday, 19 September, 2019

USA to roll out economic part of Mideast peace plan

Kobi Marimi of Israel performs the song First on CNN: White House to focus on investment in Middle East as part of peace proposal
Patty Aguilar | 20 May, 2019, 21:21

Senior PA ministers said there would be no one from the body attending the meetings, citing United States efforts to normalise Israeli actions in occupied territories. US officials see this as key to getting both the Palestinians and Israelis to the negotiating table to they can hash out specific details of future statehood.

"This has a really comprehensive approach on how to do things that will allow the Palestinian people and the countries around them to really get to a place of self sufficiency", the official said.

Bashar al-Masri, one of the most prominent Palestinian businessmen who worked with global investors and Israel to build the new $1.4-billion Palestinian city of Rawabi, announced he had rejected an invitation to the conference.

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said his government was not informed of the investment conference in advance.

"The Cabinet wasn't consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome, nor timing", Mr Shtayyeh said.

The Trump administration has started to implement its multi-faceted plan to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians, a process that will begin in June when Bahrain hosts a forum to promote economic development in key Palestinian territories, according to senior administration officials. It said the conference will not address the contentious political aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as final borders, and the status of Jerusalem and Palestinian refugees.

The news has been met with a cool response from Ramallah.

The economic aspect is just one piece of the plan, officials said, explaining that a political component includes specific details on what peace would look like.

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USA officials, while briefing reporters, declined to provide any specific details about the political portion of the plan, but said this will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

U.S. officials had said earlier the peace plan would be rolled out after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in early June.

A senior USA diplomat working on the deal told Middle East Eye earlier this month that the Israeli military would retain control over illegal settlements, the Jordan Valley and borders for five years as final status negotiations continue.

He said attempts to use economic means to lead to a settlement of the conflict "will be rejected" and that "efforts to make the oppressor and the oppressed coexist are doomed to fail". "This is not about improving living conditions under occupation but about reaching Palestine's full potential by ending the Israeli occupation".

"Palestinians will not accept any proposals which do not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital", he said.

Jared Kushner, Senior Adviser to President Donald Trump, praised Bahrain on Sunday for hosting the workshop.

Many believe that the long-delayed plan is already dead in the water, as the PA has severed ties with the USA administration.

The Palestinians are giving a cool reception to an American plan to hold a conference next month to unveil the first phase of its Mideast peace plan. Trump has also closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and cut off funding for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza.

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