Kushner: Door Still Open for Palestinians to Join Peace Initiative

Wednesday, 26 June, 2019 - 17:00
Asharq Al-Awsat

White House senior adviser and President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said on Wednesday that the door was still open for Palestinians to engage in his peace initiative.

Kushner launched a long-awaited Middle East initiative with a two-day conference in Bahrain, where economic leaders touted his plan as holding the potential to jumpstart the Palestinians' stagnant economy.

The Palestinian Authority boycotted the "Peace to Prosperity" workshop, accusing the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of dangling the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions and ignoring a fundamental issue of Israeli occupation.

Closing the conference at a luxury hotel in the capital Manama, the 38-year-old real estate investor promised to put out the political plan at "the right time" and said the Palestinian Authority could help its people by embracing the US recommendations.

"If they actually want to make their people's lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it," Kushner told reporters.

"We're going to stay optimistic," he said. "We have left the door open the whole time."

Kushner told reporters his team would release the plan’s political details, which remain secret, “when we’re ready”, adding: “We’ll see what happens”.

He said a peace deal would happen when both sides are ready to say “yes”. He acknowledged that they may never get there.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi told a press conference the US proposal was an "insult to our intelligence" and "totally divorced from reality".

"The economic peace, which has been presented before repeatedly and which has failed to materialize because it does not deal with the real components of peace, is being presented once again, recycled once again," she said.

"The elephant in the room in Manama is of course the occupation itself," she added. "The Israeli occupation, which was never mentioned -- not once."

Trump has taken a series of landmark steps to benefit Israel including recognizing bitterly divided Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017, leading the Palestinian Authority to cut off formal contact.

The Trump administration has hinted its political plan will not mention a Palestinian state -- a goal of US policy for decades -- and that it could accept the annexation of parts of the West Bank mulled by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a family friend of Kushner.

The "Peace to Prosperity" sets an ambitious goal of creating one million new Palestinian jobs through $50 billion of investment in infrastructure, tourism and education in the territories and Arab neighbors.

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