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.”


Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

Updated 16 September 2019

Afghan, US forces kill Taliban governors, fighters

  • Joint operations planned to prevent attacks ahead of polls

KABUL: Afghan forces backed by US forces killed two senior Taliban leaders and at least 38 fighters of the hard-line insurgent group in joint airstrikes conducted in northern and western regions of Afghanistan, officials said on Sunday.

The operations, launched on Saturday night, were aimed at foiling attacks planned by the Taliban on Afghan forces, said a senior security official in capital Kabul, adding that clashes have escalated following the collapse of diplomatic talks between the US and the Taliban.

The Defense Ministry in a statement said that the Taliban’s designate governor for northern Samangan province, Mawlavi Nooruddin, was killed along with four fighters in an airstrike in Dara-e-Soof Payeen district.

But the Taliban denied the governor had been killed.

“He (Nooruddin) is alive,” said Zabihullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman said in a statement.

HIGHLIGHT

Taliban deny the governor of Samangan province had been killed.

Last week, insurgents killed four Afghan special force members in a car bomb blast.

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day.

In a separate incident, Mullah Sayed Azim, a Taliban designate governor for Anar Dara district in western Farah was killed in a joint Afghan and foreign force raid.

“Sayed Azim was killed along with 34 other insurgents in Anar Dara,” said Mohibullah Mohib, a spokesman for Farah provincial police.

Senior security officials in Kabul said several joint operations will be launched against Taliban and Daesh fighters to prevent attacks on Afghan forces and civilians ahead of the presidential polls on Sept. 28.

Fighting picked up in several parts of Afghanistan last week after US President Donald Trump’s abrupt cancelation of talks with the Taliban aimed at withdrawing US troops and opening the way to end to 18 year-long war in Afghanistan. 

 

Troops for polling day

Afghan officials say around 100,000 members of the country’s security forces are ready for polling day. Nasrat Rahimi, spokesman for the Interior Ministry said on Sunday that 72,000 security personnel will be on duty around the 4,942 polling centers across Afghanistan while nearly 30,000 additional troops will serve as reserve units.

Defense Ministry spokesman Rohullah Ahmadzai said security forces have recently taken back eight districts from the Taliban and that operations are underway to secure around 20 others.