AMMAN, JORDAN - A recent (June 25-26) U.S.-sponsored workshop in Bahrain aimed to showcase the purported economic benefits a Mideast peace deal could bring. Spearheaded by White House adviser Jared Kushner - President Trump’s son-in-law - it proposes an international fund to lift the West Bank, Gaza and neighboring Arab state economies by $50 billion, half for investments or loans to the Palestinians over 10 years. But analysts say introducing economics divorced from a realistic political plan is a non-starter for Palestinians and Israelis.
U.S. commentator Nicolle Nikpour praised the Trump Administration for making a “noble effort to help the Palestinian people” with its new plan because she says they “have not been treated adequately by their leadership.”
But Jordanian political analyst Labib Kamhawi believes the Bahrain workshop did not objectively tackle Palestinian concerns that could help resolve the longstanding crisis.
"What we are looking at now is a systematic attempt under the title of the “deal of the century” to close the Palestinian file," Kamhawi said. "And not to solve the Palestinian problem. There is a big difference between closing the file and solving the problem. Everybody has to help the Palestinians to be steadfast and keep their resolve in refusing this deal whether it’s in its political aspect or economic aspect."
Analysts also point out that the plan, dubbed “peace to prosperity” made no reference to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and its blockade of the Gaza Strip. A 2016 United Nations report found the Palestinian economy could double in size, if the Israeli military occupation was lifted.
As the Bahrain meeting unfolded, Israel’s only two Arab peace partners, Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi, reaffirmed their support of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and for the two-state solution as the basis for any real peace deal.
It is unclear whether the proposal will abandon the two-state solution, which is backed by the United Nations and most countries, and involves the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
The Palestinian leadership refused to go to Bahrain and rejected the plan, saying its lack of political vision guarantees its failure. It also arrested a Palestinian businessman for attending the meeting, who was later released.
Washington’s recognition of disputed Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 infuriated the Palestinians and other Arabs.