US peace plan said to include $25 billion in West Bank and Gaza investments

Kushner, Greenblatt currently touring Arab nations to discuss proposal to funnel huge sums to Palestinians and to other Arab neighbors of Israel, NY Times reports

White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner attends a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)
White House Senior Adviser Jared Kushner attends a conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, Poland, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

The Trump administration’s much-touted peace plan may include investments of tens of billions of dollars to the Palestinians and other countries in the region, according to a report Wednesday.

The New York Times, citing unidentified analysts with knowledge of the matter, said the funds would include around $25 billion for the West Bank and Gaza and another $40 billion for Israeli neighbors including Egypt, Jordan and possibly Lebanon.

The paper noted that other sources who had spoken to US President Donald Trump’s adviser Jared Kushner said the figures were not necessarily accurate, but confirmed that the investments would be in the tens of billions.

While the US would contribute part of the funds in question, the report said Kushner planned for most of the contributions to come from the region’s countries.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, shakes hands with Jared Kushner, left, US President Donald Trump’s adviser, prior to their meeting at the Presidential Palace in Ankara, Turkey, Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019 (Presidential Press Service via AP, Pool)

Kushner and US Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt are currently in the region and have met with leaders in the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Bahrain and Turkey to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. According to the Times, they are also set to visit Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar in the coming days.

Two sources in the Gulf told Reuters that Kushner’s plan indeed appeared to focus on economic incentives instead of a land-for-peace arrangement.

US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt attends a press conference regarding the water agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, on July 13, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/ Flash90)

One source told the news agency that Kushner appeared to have ignored Arab leaders’ demands that a peace initiative must address settlements, the rights of Palestinian refugees and Jerusalem.

Another said Kushner was deferring many of the details of his proposal for a later date. “The Americans are still in the process of presenting various ideas and scenarios but don’t appear to have arrived at final parameters of a plan,” he said.

Former president Barack Obama’s ex-peace envoy Martin Indyk warned that Arabs were unlikely to accept a plan that does not clearly delineate a sovereign state.

“If the bargain is we’ll put in $65 billion so you Palestinians and Arabs will back off your political demands for an independent state based on ’67 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital, I don’t think they’re going to raise the money to pay for it. The whole proposition appears to be based on false assumptions,” he told the Times.

In a recent interview Kushner said the deal’s “goal of resolving… borders” between Israel and the Palestinians was “really to eliminate the borders” — a statement some have taken to mean the plan will not explicitly call for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Earlier this month Kushner briefed countries at a conference in Warsaw on Washington’s plans for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians to be formally presented after Israeli elections in April.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left, foreground) with other leaders at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, on February 14, 2019. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The US recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, along with the cancellation of hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to the Palestinians, have prompted the Palestinians to cut off ties with the White House and preemptively reject the peace plan.

They say that all signs indicate the plan will fall far short of their longstanding goal of establishing an independent Palestinian state in the Israeli-controlled West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

The plan could also run into Israeli opposition. Netanyahu’s governing coalition is composed of religious and nationalist hardliners who oppose serious concessions to the Palestinians.

On Monday, Netanyahu’s Likud and the New Right party sparred over the framework revealed by Kushner, with both parties warning that the other would allow the establishment of a Palestinian state under the Trump plan.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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