Kushner tries to sell Mideast plan to skeptical audience

Kushner tries to sell Mideast plan to skeptical audience

Oman is not participating in the Bahrain workshop, where US President Donald Trump's administration hopes to raise $50 billion of investments to improve the economic conditions of Palestinians.

But he also argued that agreeing to a clear pathway to economic prosperity for the Palestinians is a "necessary precondition" to resolving the conflict.

But the event fizzled out on Wednesday after the Palestinians refused to attend because the economic plan is not accompanied by a political deal which guarantees them their own state.

Kushner said the conference proved that the economic issues of the conflict were "solvable" but he offered no details on the yet-to-released political part of his peace drive being crafted largely in secrecy.

Thousands of Palestinians rallied outside a United Nations compound in Gaza to protest the conference.The demonstrators raised a black coffin that read "Bahrain conference to hell", and held signs that said, "We are not trading our rights for money".

'Peace, political stability and re-establishment of trust between all the parties involved are essential pre-requisites to the success of any economic plan for the region'.

Bahrain's king met on Tuesday with the USA delegation participating in a workshop in Manama discussing a US economic plan for the Palestinians.

"We welcome countries that recognize the state of Palestine and open embassies in Palestine", she said at a press conference in Ramallah.

Casting himself as a disruptor who would find new ways to revitalise a moribund issues, he did indeed make bold moves - all of them in support of Israeli interests to which he is ideologically aligned.

In a data-driven presentation in the style of a corporate executive, the 38-year-old adviser to Trump and family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu acknowledged the need for a political solution.

The White House, which compares the proposal to the Marshall Plan, calls for the creation of a million jobs for Palestinians and the construction of trade routes connecting Gaza and the West Bank, at a cost of $27.5 billion.

Some Gulf Arab states, like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, voiced qualified support for Kushner's plan, while Qatar sent top officials but made no public comment. He then went on to urge listeners to imagine a bustling commercial center in Gaza and the West Bank. In remarks in recent days, Palestinian officials have soundly rejected the White House's proposal out of hand.

Richard LeBaron, a former USA diplomat in the Middle East, said that the Trump administration fully expected that the Palestinians would stay away.

With Palestinian leaders rebuking the effort altogether, Kushner sought to take his message directly to everyday Palestinians. "This workshop is for you, and if this is executed correctly, it will lead to a better future for the Palestinian people: a future of dignity, prosperity and opportunity".

The two-day global meeting, led by Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner, has been billed as the first part of Washington's broader political blueprint to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

In an opinion piece published at the American political magazine Politico, Ami Ayalon, a former director of the Israeli security agency Shin Bet, Gilead Sher, former chief of staff for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and senior peace negotiator, and Orni Petruschka, a high-tech entrepreneur and think tank cofounder in Israel called Trump's plan a "dangerously simplistic approach to a complicated situation".

Saudi Arabia, one of the few Arab countries to send its foreign minister to the event, said it remained committed to that end with a state based on the border that existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

The political plan to address Middle East peace, however, is still pending, and may be unveiled in the fall.

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