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Subject Kushner unveils economic part of 'deal of the century' Middle East peace plan
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Original Message The White House has unveiled a $50bn Palestinian investment and infrastructure proposal aimed at supporting 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 before a two-day conference in Bahrain.

The so-called “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama on Tuesday and Wednesday is being held amid heavy skepticism about its viability, and outright opposition from Palestinian leaders.

Speaking to Reuters on Saturday, Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is behind the plan, said: “I laugh when [Palestinian leaders] attack this as the ‘deal of the century’. This is going to be the opportunity of the century if they have the courage to pursue it.”

Kushner said some Palestinian business executives had confirmed their participation in Bahrain, but declined to identify them. The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian business community will not attend, businessmen in the West Bank city of Ramallah told Reuters.

Several Gulf Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, will attend. Their presence, some US officials say privately, appears intended in part to curry favor with Trump as he takes a hard line against Iran.

The White House said it decided against inviting the Israeli government because the Palestinian Authority would not be there. There will instead be a small Israeli business delegation.

With no official participation from the two main protagonists and scant enthusiasm from others, and amid continued uncertainty and strong doubts over the plan’s political vision and the potential US-Iran conflict, expectations for Kushner’s conference remain decidedly low.

The plan calls for projects worth $27.5bn in the West Bank and Gaza, and $9.1bn, $7.4bn and $6.3bn for Palestinians in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon respectively. The projects envisioned are in the healthcare, education, power, water, high-tech, tourism and agriculture sectors.

“Generations of Palestinians have lived under adversity and loss but the next chapter can be defined by freedom and dignity,” the White House said, calling the plan “the most ambitious international effort for the Palestinian people to date”.

But White House officials have also played down expectations for the Manama conference, which will put Kushner just across the Gulf from Iran.

Kushner himself is calling the event a “workshop” instead of a conference, concerning a “vision” instead of an actual plan. He also stressed that governments will not be expected to make financial pledges on the spot.

[link to www.theguardian.com (secure)]
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