Passing on prosperity? 8 things to know for June 24
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Passing on prosperity? 8 things to know for June 24

Critics continue to bash the US economic proposal and the Bahrain meeting while backers continue to lament how much moolah the Palestinians will miss out on

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes notes during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 23, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas takes notes during a meeting with journalists in the West Bank town of Ramallah on June 23, 2019. (ABBAS MOMANI / AFP)

1. Take your prosperity and shove it: It’s a day before the Bahrain summit and excitement is thin on the ground.

  • The Peace to Prosperity plan was once again condemned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday night, who told foreign journalists that “we will not be slaves or servants for Greenblatt, Kushner and Friedman.”
  • Sam Bahour, a Ramallah-based Palestinian-American business consultant and chair of the board of Americans for a Vibrant Palestinian Economy, tells Time magazine that the plan is “a nice snow job.”
  • Robi Damelin, spokeswoman for the Parents Circle, a coexistence group of bereaved Israeli and Palestinian families, rages over the use of pictures of programs whose funding was cut to illustrate the plan.
  • “I think it’s one of the most cynical and insensitive acts,” said Damelin, speaking to the AP.
  • “It’s a very colonial approach, that Palestinians can’t govern themselves so we need to have a separate entity that’s able to manage the funds,” Haifa-based analyst Diane Buttu tells al-Jazeera. “This all makes a very glossy, nice, pretty 38-page brochure, but in terms of the substance, it’s never going to see the light of day because they refuse to address the political circumstances, that of occupation and denial of freedom.”

2. Uninvited: In another blow to the conference, Channel 12, one of the few Israeli outlets given an okay to send a reporter to cover the workshop, pulls out, to protest the fact that its request to send reporter Dana Weiss was rejected.

  • Yedioth Ahronoth quotes a source saying that the decision to not allow Weiss in was made by the White House, which did not like the time she tried to ask some questions there.

  • According to the report, the White House did not invite just anyone from the channel, but specifically anchor Yonit Levy, who is more Barbara Walters than Mike Wallace.
  • Security affairs reporter Yossi Melman writes on Twitter, “If the diplomatic press corps had any solidarity and if the journalists associations in Israel were supportive, they would announce that they will not cover the Bahrain summit, since the White House is deciding who goes and who does not. This is gross meddling in the free press.”
  • Somehow, one does not see that happening:

3. Going concern: Unlike Channel 12, Egypt is going to the conference, but Al-Monitor reports that many in the country are unhappy about that.

  • “When the US recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and cuts off the UNRWA funding, and then Egypt decides to attend this conference, this infers that Egypt is abandoning Palestine and weakening the Palestinian resistance,” says Rakha Hassan, a member of the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs.
  • Along with Egypt and others sending fairly low-level technocrats to the conference, the UAE announces it is sending Obeid al-Tayer, minister of state for financial affairs, Reuters reports, which is essentially akin to a deputy minister.
  • The news agency also interviews Saudi minister Adel Jubeir, who says the plan could be beneficial, which is about as rousing an endorsement as one may expect.
  • “I think anything that improves the situation of the Palestinian people is something that should be welcomed,” Jubeir says. “Now having said that, the political process is extremely important.”

4. Don’t knock it: Channel 12 aside, Israel and some of its friends are also pretty gung-ho about the conference, or at least see a silver lining.

  • Touring the West Bank’s Jordan Valley with US Ambassador David Friedman and US hawk of all hawks John Bolton, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says “we’ll hear the American proposition, hear it fairly and with openness.”
  • Haaretz’s Corin Degani writes that opening up the Palestinian economy to private sector initiatives as the plan calls for may be just what the doctor ordered, at least if there is a political solution as well.
  • “The Palestinian economy’s reliance on the public sector can’t continue,” Dr. Sami Miaari of Tel Aviv University is quoted saying. “In order to strengthen the economy we need to focus on strengthening the private sector and to encourage export and labor intensive industries – traditional sectors like agriculture and textiles that can be brought back from Jordan or the industry there is in Gaza.”
  • Alan Dershowitz writes in The Hill that a Palestinian “state can emerge only from negotiations with Israel in which both sides make painful compromises. The new U.S. economic proposals can serve as a building block for such negotiations. Palestinians should go to a conference on the plan in Bahrain this week with open minds. They need not commit themselves to any specific agreements except to listen and to offer suggestions and counter-proposals.”
  • Israeli-American businessman Charles Tawil tells ToI’s Adam Rasgon he’ll lead some 10 Palestinian business people who agree to attend. All 10 are apparently linked to Hebron-area businessman Ashraf Jabari, who himself is seen by some as a court Palestinian to settlers. Most of those going ask that they not be named, due to “security issues.”

5. Maybe if we throw more money at the problem? Apparently not understanding that the Palestinian refusal is not over the amount of money on offer, Israel Hayom runs a headline writing that “The Palestinians gave up on $50 billion and will have to make do with $100 million,” referring to a pledge from the Arab League to funnel aid to the Palestinians.

  • “The price of refusal,” writes the paper, which is apparently totally on board with US President Donald Trump’s transactional approach.
  • In the same paper, former Jerusalem mayor and current MK Nir Barkat says the plan is great, but he’s got an even better idea to bolster the Palestinian economy: more West Bank tourism areas and industrial zones for settlers to employ Palestinians.
  • “The Israeli side can bring the innovation, the capital and managerial knowledge for the benefit of the Palestinian side, which through working in these industrial areas could significantly increase its income,” Barkat tells the paper. “This is a plan that is also good for the settlements, and all the settlement heads have welcomed it.”

6. What now? ToI’s David Horovitz writes that the real question isn’t who is going, who is refusing and how much money is on the table, but rather what the US does next.

  • “Armed with this vision of a better Palestinian future, and assisted by some of its wealthier regional allies, does the US seek to bypass the rejectionist PA and nurture an alternative Palestinian leadership? At this stage, that path seems highly implausible; credible Palestinians ready, willing and able to defy the PA are in short supply.”
  • “Does the administration have a backup strategy, therefore — a path forward that it has wisely developed in the certain knowledge that Abbas would not prove a willing partner? One would like to assume that the answer to this is yes, except it is devilishly hard to imagine what that path would look like.”
  • “Alternatively, then, will we sooner or later see the president lambaste the Abbas leadership, make a dramatic show of throwing up his hands, and allow Netanyahu to move ahead with his promised gradual annexation of settlements — already semi-endorsed by Ambassador David Friedman and Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt?”

7. Cold Turkey: The Israeli press is even more excited by the results in the Istanbul election rerun, which confirmed a loss for one of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s major allies.

  • The story makes the front page of all the country’s major dailies.
  • “Fall of the tyrant,” reads the top headline in Yedioth Ahronoth.
  • “What was at stake here was much more than a rerun election. It was a referendum on Erdogan’s performance and governance, and the voters’ message is clear: the majority of Istanbul, a metropolis of over 15 million people, with its residents representing every corner of the country’s very diverse population, have become tired of a state that increasingly out of touch with its population and its needs,” expert Louis Fishman writes in Haaretz.
  • Unsurprisingly, some see a direct connection between Erdogan and Netanyahu.
  • “There comes a moment when suddenly everyone understands that it’s time for the eternal leader to go home,” Yair Lapid says at a Blue and White faction meeting.

8. Spin cycle: A Channel 12 report that Netanyahu may be seeking to scupper early elections and form a unity government with Blue and White seems like an obvious trial balloon that is going nowhere.

  • Even Channel 12 reporter Amit Segal seemed unsure of what he was reporting as he was leading off the newscast with it on Sunday night, adding in enough caveats to fill a Latin dictionary.
  • He later tweets indicating that he didn’t think the item should have led the newscast since it’s such an insane scenario.
  • Then again, Israelis appear to have become immune to insanity, with Likud MK Miki Zohar indicating that Netanyahu mulled forming a coalition with the Arab parties, the same ones he race-baited and used as a cudgel against Blue and White, meriting little more than a blip.
  • “Anything works, so long as it means you survive,” writes Yedioth’s Amichai Eteli.
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