Kushner urges Palestinians to take the “Opportunity of the Century”

Jared Kushner kicked off a ‘Peace to Prosperity’ two-day workshop in Bahrain with a speech on the plan to create a million new jobs in 10 years in the Palestinian region. (Screenshot/PtP YouTube)
Updated 26 June 2019
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Kushner urges Palestinians to take the “Opportunity of the Century”

  • Jared Kushner kicked off the two-day workshop with a speech on the plan to create a million new jobs in 10 years
  • Palestinians reject the initiative as it does not address the key political aspects of a peace deal

MANAMA: White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday urged the Palestinians to take the “Opportunity of the Century” to have $50 billion pumped into the stagnant economy of the West Bank and Gaza.

“My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” said Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, opening the “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain.

Kusher repeated an earlier caveat that his economic plan would not go into operation until there was a political solution to the Palestinian issue. “To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict — one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people,” he said.

However, he surprised his audience of global business leaders, economists and politicians by saying the Palestinians must accept the economic plan before a political solution could be reached.

“Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary condition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues,” Kushner said.

He dismissed mockery of the US peace plan as the “Deal of the Century,” and offered an alternative. “This effort is better referred to as the Opportunity of the Century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it,” he said.

“We see tremendous potential. What we have developed is the most comprehensive economic plan ever created specifically for the Palestinians, and the broader Middle East. We can turn this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model for commerce and advancement throughout the world.”

Prominent figures taking part in the two-day Bahrain conference include International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, World Bank president David Malpass and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Among the business leaders in Manama for the conference was Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of the UAE property and leisure group Emaar. He was optimistic. “If there is a one percent chance we do something good here, we should get together and try,” he said.

Saudi Arabia indicated support on Tuesday for “international efforts aimed at improving prosperity, investment and economic growth in the region.”

But Riyadh restated that any peace deal should be based on the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative that has been the Arab consensus since 2002. It calls for a Palestinian state in territory not occupied by Israel before 1967, with a capital in East Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return.

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AS IT HAPPENED: SEE HOW THE FIRST DAY UNFOLDED BELOW - All times local (GMT +2)

21:54 Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with the US delegation participating in the workshop at Al-Qudaibiya Palace.
The delegation included senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Bahrain state news agency BNA said.
King Hamad also received a letter from US President Donald Trump, BNA said.

21:10: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with the US delegation participating in the workshop.
The delegation included senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Bahrain state news agency BNA said.
King Hamad also received a letter from US President Donald Trump, BNA said.

21:00: The full details of the economic plan can be downloaded here.

Kushner briefly went through the main points and some of the figures, including the four overarching aims. They are doubling GDP, creating 1 million jobs, reducing unemployment and reducing poverty.

20:05: More from Kushner's speech earlier. When he moved on to outline the economic plan that was published Saturday, he addressed the absence of Palestinian business leaders at the Bahrain conference.

"A lot of the leading Palestinian business people who we speak to wanted to be here tonight. They were told by the (Palestinian) authority not to come and because they rely on them for their livelihood it’s not a free market where they can make those distinctions."

20:00: Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties says the Palestinian cause is one close to the heart of all Arabs.

19:45: Some more details from Jared Kushner's speech. He painted a picture of what could be in Gaza and the West Bank:

"Imagine a new reality in the Middle East. Imagine a bustling commercial and tourist center in Gaza and the West Bank where international businesses come together and thrive. Imagine the West Bank as a blossoming economy, full of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and business leaders. Imagine people and goods flowing quickly and securely throughout the region as economics become more integrated and people more prosperous.

"This isn’t a stretch, this is actually the historical legacy of the Middle East, specifically of Gaza and the West Bank."

19:45: The first panel - The Time is Now: Building a Coalition for Middle East Prosperity - gets underway, hosted by Nik Gowing.

19:40: Kushner says Palestinian self-sufficiency is the key to helping them reach prosperity, and will be vital in helping create a better business environment climate in the Middle East as a whole...

19:30: Kushner is now summarizing what the "Opportunity of the Century" economic plan actually entails for the conference...

19:25: Kushner tells the conference that the US wants to see peace, security and prosperity for Palestinians, Israelis and all people around the world and that the US has not "given up" on the Palestinian people.

19:15: We are under way, and Jared Kushner is speaking...

18:45: We are still waiting for Jared Kushner's address, and we are being treated to some dramatic music and this holding screen on the live stream...stay tuned, we will have some action shortly...

18:20: Dignitaries for the conference are still arriving and registering and enjoying a welcome reception, so let’s take a look at what we can expect on tonight and tomorrow’s agenda…

- Donald Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner will deliver the opening remarks, with a panel discussion on what the US administration’s plans for “Middle East prosperity” will entail. The panel will be moderated by Nik Gowing, a UK-based professor, author & broadcaster and will include Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties as well as Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone.

- Everyone will then enjoy an opening night dinner.

- Tomorrow, the highlights will be a panel entitled “Unleashing Economic Potential” — looking at how trade and job creation can help Gaza, the West Bank and the surrounding region — which will include Mohammed Al-Sheikh, Minister of State, member of Council of Ministers and member of Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

- Kushner will hold a conversation with former UK prime minister Tony Blair, while just before lunch Arab News’ editor-in-chief Faisal Abbas moderates a panel on how to empower the Palestinian people to reach their full potential.


UK warns British ships to avoid Strait of Hormuz

Updated 2 min 22 sec ago
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UK warns British ships to avoid Strait of Hormuz

  • Iran had taken a ‘dangerous path’: British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt
  • France has expressed full solidarity with Britain

LONDON: London Saturday advised British ships to avoid the Strait of Hormuz for “an interim period” following Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker.
“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation,” a government spokeswoman said following an overnight meeting of the government’s COBRA emergencies committee to discuss the crisis.
“We have advised UK shipping to stay out of the area for an interim period.”
She noted comments by Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt earlier that “there will be serious consequences if the situation is not resolved.”
She added that there will be further meetings over the weekend and “we remain in close contact with our international partners.”
Hunt said on Saturday that he was worried that Iran had taken a “dangerous path” after it seized a British-flagged tanker on Friday.
“Yesterday’s action in Gulf shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilizing behavior after Gibraltar’s LEGAL detention of oil bound for Syria,” Hunt said on Twitter.
“As I said yesterday our reaction will be considered but robust. We have been trying to find a way to resolve Grace1 issue but WILL ensure the safety of our shipping.”

Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged oil tanker was allegedly due to a collision with an Iranian fishing boat, the country’s state-run IRNA news agency said Saturday.

France and Germnay have expressed solidarity with Britain and has called on Iran to release tanker.

The British navy seized Iran’s Grace 1 tanker in Gibraltar on July 4 on suspicion of smuggling oil to Syria in breach of European Union sanctions.
Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Friday it had seized the British-flagged Swedish-owned Stena Impero in the Strait of Hormuz for breaking “international maritime rules.”
Iranian authorities alleged Saturday the ship had collided with a fishing boat. It said the tanker was now at anchor off the port of Bandar Abbas with all its crew aboard.