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Kushner to Asharq Al-Awsat: The US Plan Is Not a Bribe

Kushner to Asharq Al-Awsat: The US Plan Is Not a Bribe

Thursday, 27 June, 2019 - 08:00
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner gives a speech at the opening of the "Peace to Prosperity" conference in Manama, Bahrain, June 25, 2019 in this still image taken from a video. Reuters TV via REUTERS
Manama - Najlaa Habriri
US President Donald Trump’s adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said his economic plan to support the Palestinians proposes a new approach to resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and that its implementation should come in parallel with the political aspect of what he calls the “deal of the century.”

In an interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Kushner said the Manama workshop achieved “tremendous success” and that all attendees agreed that economic transformation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip was possible and reliant on political stability and security.

Noting that participants came “from all over the world,” the US senior official said that the gathering of the business community was a new approach to resolving the conflict.

He stressed that in the past, the diplomatic community failed to achieve success, and that it was repeating the same policy today.

“It is a waste of everyone's time,” he said.

Kushner explained that the economic community was looking at the prospects for security, peace and good governance, adding that shifting the Palestinian economy was possible. He also said that his economic plan was “very detailed and reasonable.”

“After extensive review, people were very positive about it and considered it achievable,” he underlined.

Responding to a question about the plan’s non-referral to settlements, occupation and checkpoints, which makes it appear detached from its political and security context, Kushner said the plan pointed to crossing points that should be invested in to facilitate transit.

He added that the presence of "solid" borders fell within Israel’s attempt to protect itself from terrorism, noting that although the proportion of people willing to commit terrorist acts was very small, the rest unfortunately paid the price.

“As for other issues, this plan is not political. So I think those who criticize the plan for this reason do not realize the purpose of this economic effort,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Kushner said he believed the Israelis were impressed with the plan’s details and all-inclusiveness.

“I think the Israelis are very happy to be in Bahrain,” he added.

The US presidential adviser pointed to the rapprochement between Arab countries and Israel over the past few years.

“I think it is imperative that this region be united. When that happens, it will unleash enormous economic potential and greatly expand security,” he stressed.

Commenting on claims that the US was trying to “bribe” neighboring countries through this economic plan to settle Palestinian refugees, Kushner said the economic plan was not a bribe, but an opportunity to enable people to overcome problems that have plagued them for a long time.

He emphasized that the plan would not be implemented but in parallel with a political solution, “but at the same time we cannot just settle for a political solution without improving people’s lives, because that will hinder the political solution.”

Asked to explain his earlier statements that the US peace plan would not be in line with the Arab Peace Initiative, Kushner said that although the Arab initiative was a good effort, it was met with rejection.

“In order to reach an agreement, concessions should be made by both sides,” he remarked.

On the Arab reactions to the US economic plan, Trump’s son-in-law asserted that everyone who attended the workshop and looked at the 140-page document said that the plan was largely feasible and brought new ideas to solve the crisis.

“There is a great desire among the Gulf States to help the Palestinian people, and I think they see in this plan a framework to help them do this,” he noted.

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