Sunday, June 23, 2019 1:00 am
Palestinian investment proposal unveiled
WASHINGTON – The Trump administration on Saturday unveiled a $50 billion Palestinian investment and infrastructure proposal intended to be the economic engine to power its much-anticipated but still unreleased “deal of the century” Middle East peace plan.
The scheme, which calls for a mix of public and private financing and intends to create at least a million new jobs for Palestinians, was posted to the White House website ahead of a two-day conference in Bahrain this week that is being held amid heavy skepticism about its viability and outright opposition from the Palestinians.
The 10-year plan calls for projects worth $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza, and $9.1 billion, $7.4 billion and $6.3 billion for Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, respectively.
Projects envisioned include those in the health care, education, power, water, high-tech, tourism and agriculture sectors. It calls for the creation of a “master fund” to administer the finances and implementation of the projects that is says are akin to the Marshall Plan that rebuilt Europe after World War II.
The plan foresees more than doubling the Palestinian gross domestic product, reducing the Palestinian poverty rate by 50% and cutting the sky-high Palestinian unemployment rate to nearly single digits, according to the documents, which do not specify exactly how the projects will be funded.
An already tough sell that has vexed U.S. administrations for decades is made tougher not least because Trump and his aides have refused to endorse a two-state solution to the conflict that has long been seen as the only viable path to lasting peace.
They have also suggested they are open to unilateral Israeli annexation of occupied territory in the West Bank. And officials say there is no intention of discussing either issue or the most contentious parts of their proposal to end the long-running conflict.