First Stage of Trump’s Middle East Peace Plan to Encourage Investment in West Bank, Gaza

May 20, 2019 Updated: May 20, 2019

The Trump administration will unveil its peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian people during an international conference in Bahrain in June, the White House announced May 19.

The plan will emphasize a path from “peace to prosperity” by encouraging investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, according to a joint statement from the United States and the Kingdom of Bahrain.

Government and business leaders from the Middle East will flock to the conference, in an effort to start the economic stage of the peace plan, senior U.S. officials said. The plan also includes proposals for resolving political issues at the core of the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“I look forward to these important discussions about a vision that will offer Palestinians exciting new opportunities to realize their full potential,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. “This workshop will engage leaders from across the entire Middle East to promote economic growth and opportunity for the people in this important region.”

President Donald Trump has called the plan the “deal of the century.” Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and regional envoy Jason Greenblatt are leading the Middle East team.

“We think this is an opportunity to take the economic plan that we’ve worked on for a long time now and present it in the region,” a senior Trump administration official said.

In addition to business and government leaders from the Middle East, the June 25–26 conference in Manama will host officials and business executives from Europe and Asia, including some finance ministers, the official added.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted Trump’s peace efforts since Trump decided to move the American embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Trump became the first president to follow through on a promise many have made to relocate the embassy, earning widespread praise in Israel.

“Our position is clear: we will neither participate in the economic segment nor in the political segment of this deal,” senior Palestinian Authority official Wasel Abu Youssef said.

Despite the Palestine Liberation Organization’s boycott, Palestinian business leaders “have shown a lot of interest” in the conference, the senior U.S. official said.

Investment in Gaza

U.S. officials previously have said the peace plan would be introduced after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in early June.

The Manama conference is meant to show the people of Gaza, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group, that “there are donor countries around the world willing to come in and make investments,” the senior American official said.

Trump administration officials have been working to secure support from Arab governments. The final plan is likely to include billions in investments for Palestinians from oil-rich Gulf states, people informed about the discussions said.

Trump’s aides have said that the plan will address major political issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the status of Israel. Some of the proposals may draw criticism from both sides, the aides said.

Palestinians demand to have their own state in the Israeli territories in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip.

Kushner has declined to say whether the plan includes a two-state solution, a central goal of other recent peace efforts that is widely endorsed internationally.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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