A week after Bahrain conference, US releases Arabic version of economic plan

Envoy says Palestinian people deserve to judge for themselves what Washington is proposing for them

Screen capture of the Arabic version of the White House's 'Peace to Prosperity' economic plan, June 2019. (The White House)
Screen capture of the Arabic version of the White House's 'Peace to Prosperity' economic plan, June 2019. (The White House)

US special Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt on Tuesday published an Arabic version of the Trump administration’s economic proposal for the Palestinians, a key element of its vision for peace with Israel.

The so-called “Peace to Prosperity” document was published by the White House last month, ahead of a June 25-26 economic workshop on the proposal held in Bahrain last week. But despite the fact that US officials repeatedly asserted the plan would benefit the Palestinian people, it was only released in English.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the Bahrain conference, which was initiated by US President Donald Trump’s special adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner.

“While Palestinian leadership boycotted and tried (unsuccessfully) to undermine our workshop, Palestinians and the region deserve a chance to judge our economic plan for themselves,” Greenblatt tweeted Tuesday. “I’m pleased to share our Peace to Prosperity vision in Arabic!”

He included a link to the document on the White House website.

Jared Kushner, right, and Jason Greenblatt, left, attend the opening session of a Middle East peace conference in Warsaw, Poland, Feb. 14, 2019. (Sean Gallup/Getty Images via JTA)

The plan, whose English version Kushner said during a panel in Bahrain had been downloaded half a million times, calls for $50 billion in investment over 10 years in the Palestinian territories and Israel’s Arab neighbors.

Listing a slew of projects to develop roads, border crossings, power generation and tourism, the US framework sets an optimistic goal of creating a million Palestinian jobs.

The Trump administration has, however, hinted that its political plan for peace — due later in the year — will not mention a Palestinian state, abandoning longstanding US policy.

The Palestinian Authority and its rival Hamas have both denounced the economic initiative, saying it amounts to a bid by the administration to buy off their aspirations for an independent state.

The PA says that Kushner’s plan is a pretext by a pro-Israel Trump administration to impose a political solution that it says will adopt Israel’s positions on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In this June 25, 2019, photo released by Bahrain News Agency, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner talks to the audience during the opening session of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama, Bahrain. (Bahrain News Agency via AP)

Israel supported the conference and, in unprecedented scenes, Israeli academics and journalists openly traveled to Bahrain despite the lack of diplomatic relations. No Israeli officials were invited to attend.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017, when the US president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Washington has also halted aid to the Palestinians, pressuring them to resume peace negotiations with Israel.

In 2018 Kushner appealed directly to the Palestinian people, urging them to not let their “scared” leadership reject the still-unpublished peace plan. The interview he gave with the East Jerusalem-based Al Quds newspaper was seen as an attempt by the Trump administration to reach out to the Palestinian people, despite the official boycott.

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