Core issue

Thursday, 2019-06-27 15:13:55
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A member of Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas patrols the border area with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, June 23, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)
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NDO - The administration of the US President Donald Trump has officially kicked off the economic part of the new Middle East peace plan with a hope to attract the participation and contributions from Arab countries and allies. The political part of the plan is still a mystery. However, the Palestinians strongly opposed this ambitious plan, insisting on the two-state solution, the core issue in the Middle East peace process.

White House Senior Advisor Jared Kushner has announced an economic development plan to bring “peace and prosperity” to the Palestinians, at a two-day US-initiated international economic conference under the theme “Peace to Prosperity” which was recently held in Manama, the capital of Bahrain. However, not only boycotting the conference in Bahrain, Palestine also flatly rejected proposals for economic development. Palestine opposed the US peace plan because it said Washington could not act as an intermediary for the Middle East peace process, accusing it of pro-Israel bias. Palestine argued that prosperity would not be reached without a fair political solution to the conflict. About 3,000 people took to the streets in many Palestinian cities to protest the conference in Bahrain.

The conference in Bahrain addressed the economic aspect of the Middle East peace plan, which has been delayed for a long time by the administration of President Donald Trump. Taking into account that controversial political proposals may be delayed until after the re-election in Israel next September, the US$50 billion economic plan has been launched by Washington. The White House's plan focuses on initiatives to stimulate the “great economic potential” of Palestine.

Accordingly, US$15 billion of the total would come from grants, US$$25 billion in subsidised loans, and about $11 billion would come in through private capital. As many as 179 economic development projects would be funded, including 147 for the West Bank and Gaza, 15 for Jordan, 12 for Egypt, and 5 for Lebanon. The projects include infrastructure, water, power, telecommunications, tourism and medical facilities, among others.

The White House stated the plan was intended to help break the deadlock in the current efforts to create peace between Israel and Palestine. The plan supports economic development for Palestine towards four main objectives, including doubling the Palestinian GDP within a decade, creating more than one million Palestinian jobs, reducing unemployment and reducing poverty among Palestinians. However, Palestine insisted on rejecting proposals at the Bahrain conference, criticising the US and Israeli authorities for extinguishing Palestinian aspiration for independence.

Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, said that the Trump administration “is insinuating that they know what is best for the Palestinian people” without addressing the underlying issue of the Israeli occupation. Palestine affirmed that it would not compromise because there must be a comprehensive and long-term political solution. According to Palestine, the US peace plan has ignored the core issue in the Israel-Palestine conflict, which is the two-state solution. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reiterated his objection to the US plan and emphasised that a political solution must come first.

The Palestinians have spent decades struggling with aburning desire to establish an independent Palestinian State, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Therefore, any peace plan that does not address this issue is considered a failure. Any economic support cannot replace the political settlement. Peace and prosperity will only be reached if there is a political initiative based on a two-state solution that the Palestinians have been pursuing and have been supported by the United Nations as well as the international community for a long time.