A $4 billion foreign investment package to boost peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians will not be considered unless US Secretary of State John Kerry succeeds in bringing the negotiating parties back to the table, The Times of Israel has learned.
“[This package] is not intended as a substitute for the political process,” a Western diplomatic source told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. “It will be launched either in parallel or after the political track is resumed, as judged by John Kerry.”
Kerry is scheduled to return to Israel later this week in an effort to relaunch negotiations amid reports of Israeli willingness to release a limited number of Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the Palestinians forgoing the precondition of an Israeli acknowledgment of the ’67 lines as the basis for talks.
At the closing session of the World Economic Forum in Jordan on May 26, Kerry presented a “groundbreaking” $4 billion package of private investment in the Palestinian economy. Coordinated by the office of Tony Blair, Quartet envoy to the Middle East, the investment package seeks to boost the Palestinian GDP by 50 percent within three years and cut unemployment from its current rate of 21-22% to just 8% in a similar time frame.
According to the Western diplomat, the money will go to eight sectors of the Palestinian economy that are in dire need of financial assistance: construction and housing, building materials, light manufacturing, IT and communications, agriculture, energy, water, and tourism. A group of Western experts has been assembled to accurately assess the needs of the Palestinian economy.
“It’s not going to be about ‘let’s divvy out the money,'” the diplomat said, stressing that the investments would be dependent on the political track, a demand voiced by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum.