US "deal of the century" calls for $50b regional fund

Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Photo: Reuters

Talking to Reuters, US President Donald Trump's adviser Jared Kushner has revealed details of the economic plan for the Palestinians, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon  ahead of the peace workshop in Bahrain.

On Friday, the White House revealed the economic part of the Plan of the Century for a settlement between Israel and the Palestinians. In an interview with news agency Reuters, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, who is a senior adviser to the president, gave details of the plan that will be presented in a few days' time at the planned "peace workshop" in Bahrain on economic development in the Palestinian Authority and in the three neighboring countries, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

Under the plan, a $50 billion fund will be set up. Of this, $28 billion will be for the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, which is rules by Hamas. $7.5 billion will be for Jordan, $9 billion for Egypt, and $6.5 billion for Lebanon. The White House hopes that the wealthy Gulf states will be the main contributors to the economic fund. Reuters reports Kushner as saying that the US will also participate in the fund.

The fund will be managed by an international development bank with a board of management that will decide on allocations of funds to regional projects. Some $15 billion will be awarded in the form of grants, $25 billion will be loans, and $11 billion will be based on private capital funds.

On upgrading of transport infrastructure, the Americans propose a project for connecting the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to make movement of people and goods between the two parts of the Palestinian people easier. Under the plan, this project will be completed within two years and will be financed by grants.

The plan is to finance 179 projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, alongside development and financing of projects in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Among the projects are infrastructure improvements, and water, energy, telecommunications, tourism, and healthcare building projects. An amount will be allocated to a large infrastructure project connecting the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula for purposes of trade and services.

The plan offers grants of up to $1 billion for business proposals for developing tourism in the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, including the renovation and reconstruction of historic and religious sites and rehabilitation of beaches.

Kushner said that if the plan went ahead it would double Palestinian GDP within a decade, create a million jobs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, reduce unemployment o below 10%, and cut poverty by 50%.

The plan is to publish the second part of the "deal of the century", the political part, later this year, after the general election in Israel in September. Kushner expects to receive feedback from businesspeople and heads of investment funds over the two days of the Bahrain workshop this week.

The main difficulty in the way of the plan at present is the almost total boycott of the Bahrain event on the part of the Palestinians, because of the perception of the US administration as one-sidedly in favor of Israel and as a supporter of Israeli annexation of territories regarded by the Palestinians as theirs.

Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 23, 2019

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019

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Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Photo: Reuters
Jared Kushner and Donald Trump Photo: Reuters
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