Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity plan met with guarded enthusiasm

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Dubai-based Emaar Properties, talks to an Israeli radio journalist at the Peace to Prosperity conference in Manama. (Reuters)
Updated 26 June 2019

Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity plan met with guarded enthusiasm

  • Palestine is very important for all Arabs, says Alabbar, UAE property magnate

MANAMA: Business leaders from the US and the Middle East reacted with guarded enthusiasm to the Peace to Prosperity plan presented by White House special adviser Jared Kushner to an audience of global decision-makers in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the big investment business Blackstone Group, said the plan “could happen in the right circumstances. We all have to have a dream, and this is a very sensible dream.”

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of the UAE property and leisure group Emaar, said Palestine is very important for all Arabs.

“The issue is very close to our hearts. Everyone of us is Palestinian at heart, and I feel I represent them here tonight,” he said in reference to the absence of Palestinian Authority delegates at the event.

Earlier, the audience of business leaders and policymakers from around the world listened attentively as Kushner unveiled details of the $50 billion plan to revive the Palestinian and regional economy.

He is hoping to attract investment from Middle Eastern and other governments, as well as private enterprise from around the world, for the proposals, which are designed to revive the Palestinian economy, create 1 million jobs and cut the poverty rate in the occupied territories.

HIGHLIGHT

The audience of business leaders and policymakers from around the world listened attentively as Kushner unveiled details of the $50 billion plan to revive the Palestinian and regional economy.

About $27 billion of the total is earmarked for Palestine, and only 20 percent of that will be straight equity.

“That’s only $5.5 billion, and it’s not that much money. It’s a good-sized proposal you’d expect to be financing at the World Bank,” Schwarzman said.

“This type of transformation is financially doable. It’s a question of whether there’s the political will.”

Alabbar said he had been a big investor in the region around Palestine for 12 years, and in some ways it was easier to do business in the Middle East than in North America, where getting planning permission for big developments could take as long as seven years.

He pointed to Emaar’s successful developments in Serbia as an example of “a war-torn region that has come good.”

Schwarzman gave examples from his firm’s investments in Uganda and Poland as the kind of transformational investments Palestine needs.

Both men were asked what effect Kushner’s proposals would have shown in two years’ time. “I think we’d all be overjoyed if this situation was normalized,” Schwarzman replied. Alabbar said: “I think the velocity of the change could surprise us all positively.”


US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

Updated 13 min 10 sec ago

US reaches ceasefire deal with Turkey in northern Syria

ANKARA: Turkey has agreed to completely end military operations in northern Syria after Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone, US Vice President Mike Pence said Thursday.
Turkey's operation "will be halted entirely on completion" of the pullout, Pence told reporters after talks in Ankara.
"Great news out of Turkey," Donald Trump tweeted, shortly before Pence announced in Ankara that Turkey had agreed to end its military operation once Kurdish fighters withdraw from a safe zone.
"Millions of lives will be saved!" Trump wrote.


Trump's chief of staff had earlier said the president may revoke a White House invitation extended to Erdogan, depending on the outcome of the talks in Ankara.
"It's still on the schedule," Mike Mulvaney told reporters, "but I think that's one of those wait and see things."
"The president's been very clear about what he wants to see out of President Erdogan," he added.