‘Peace can only be achieved if it comes with a path for people to improve their lives … instead of blaming others for their current misfortune…’
(Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times) The Trump administration kicked off an economic portion of its long-awaited plan for Arab–Israeli peace on Tuesday, amid intense denunciations from the Palestinian leadership.
Saying an improved economic situation was “a necessary precondition to resolving what was previously an unsolvable political situation,” White House senior adviser Jared Kushner opened the Peace to Prosperity workshop in Manama, Bahrain, pushing an agenda for growth.
“To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestine 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,” Kushner said in a live broadcast of his opening speech, armed with a headset microphone and Powerpoint slides. “However, today is not about the political issues, we’ll get to those at the right time.”
After former President Barack Obama broke decades of protocol by supporting Palestinian leaders over the conservative Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu, the Trump administration’s course correction has created tension in the Palestinian settlements, where the influence of Iran-funded terrorist organizations like Hamas and Hezbollah often run deep.
The vocally pro-Palestinian positions of radical freshman members of Congress like Reps. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have only made the partisan divide that much more pronounced as attacks on the close U.S. ally have found their way to the floor of the House of Representatives.
Despite frequent rocket attacks and other campaigns targeting Israel, the Palestinian lobby continues to cast its adherents as the sole victim in the conflict while maintaining a hard-line stance against any long-term brokered compromises that would allow Israel to maintain its sovereignty.
Husam Zomlot, the head of the Palestinian Mission in the U.K. and former ambassador to Washington, dismissed the conference as a way to legitimize Israel’s annexation of Palestinian territories.
“This is the most disingenuous, deceitful act by a state in a long time in the history of international relations,” said Zomlot in a phone interview Tuesday.
The proposal, which was released this weekend and comprises a 96-page economic plan, a 40-page overview and a website, would pour $50 billion into infrastructure, education and governance projects in Palestinian territories and the region.
But Zomlot attacked it, claiming that it elided Israel’s impact on Palestinians’ daily life and its devastating effect on the Palestinian economy.
“Their idea is that this is a real estate deal, with Israel getting the property and the Palestinians getting the cash. The problem is that Palestine is not for sale.”
But Kushner insisted the Palestinian leadership is the problem.
“Despite what those who have let you down in the past will tell you, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” said Kushner, looking into the camera in a live broadcast of his opening speech as he delivered “a direct message to the Palestinian people.”
“You can change your course for the positive if you’re willing to try new things and think outside the traditional box. Peace can only be achieved if it comes with a path for people to improve their lives … instead of blaming others for their current misfortune.”
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