White House’s Middle East Economic Plan Lacks Historical Understanding

June 28, 2019 by HJ Mai
Senior advisor Jared Kushner attends the National Thanksgiving Turkey pardoning ceremony in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., on November 20, 2018. (Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)

WASHINGTON – The White House earlier this week unveiled its long-awaited and highly touted Middle East peace plan. Well, at least the economic portion of it. 

To unveil the plan, Washington convened a two-day workshop in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25 and 26. While the workshop was attended by numerous leaders from the Arab world, the bigger headline was the leaders that didn’t attend. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments participated in the workshop that aims to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict that has lasted more than seven decades. 

The economic component of the peace plan, whose development has been spearheaded by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, aims to unleash the economic potential of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by promoting capital investments, improving education and health care, and enhancing governance structures.

The White House hopes that oil-rich Gulf states will finance the plan by injecting upward of $50 billion into the economies of Palestine and neighboring Arab countries. Rolling out an economic vision without a clear path to lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians is a questionable decision, given that Kushner himself said the plan’s economic component hinges on reaching a political solution. 

“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,” Kushner said on Tuesday. “The reason why we thought it was important to bring out the economic vision before the political vision is because we need people to see what the future can look like.”

As if the absence of Israelis and Palestinians in Bahrain wasn’t a clear indication in itself, the first phase of the plan – often referred to as the “deal of the century” – did not live up to its billing. 

“The Palestinian issue is primarily political, and pouring money into it won’t solve it. Kushner’s plan is indicative of his lack of understanding of the history and dynamics in the region, offering a simplistic and unviable, immoral non-solution to a longstanding, complex issue,” Nancy Okail, the executive director of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy, told the Guardian. 

Kushner told reporters on Wednesday that the U.S. will put out its political plan when time is right. He added that both Israelis and Palestinians would have to agree on a political solution, adding that might never happen. 

“In short, the U.S. economic plan is based not so much on postponing the political issues but on assuming that these issues are the invention of Palestinian leaders who have blocked their people’s prosperity,” Nathan J. Brown, a professor at George Washington University and a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Center, wrote in a policy analysis piece.

Palestinian leaders rejected Kushner’s plan before its official presentation. 

“The economic situation should not be discussed before the political one,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday. “As long as there is no political solution, we do not deal with any economic solution.”

Assuming that nation states and private corporations would invest in a region that has been plagued by unrest since 1948 appears naïve. Without a political solution that addresses whether there can be a two-state solution, and the status of Jerusalem, Trump’s deal of the century won’t amount to anything more than another broken promise.

In The News

Health

Voting

Foreign Affairs

Blinken Hasn't Seen Any Evidence on AP Gaza Building Strike
Foreign Affairs
Blinken Hasn't Seen Any Evidence on AP Gaza Building Strike

WASHINGTON (AP) — Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday he hasn't yet seen any evidence supporting Israel's claim that Hamas operated in a Gaza building housing The Associated Press and other media outlets that was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike. Blinken said he has pressed... Read More

Could Biden’s Use of Sanctions Affect U.S.-Canada Relationship?
Think Tanks
Could Biden’s Use of Sanctions Affect U.S.-Canada Relationship?
May 10, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — While much has been studied about President Biden’s first 100 days in office, most of that analysis has focused on how the administration’s actions impact American citizens or relationships with the world’s other great powers, but many wonder about how early actions will affect... Read More

Middle East Needs to Move to 'A New Economic Model,' According to IMF Official
Think Tanks
Middle East Needs to Move to 'A New Economic Model,' According to IMF Official
May 7, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

An official from the International Monetary Fund argued this week that the Middle East and Central Asia regions should shift towards a new and inclusive economic model as they emerge from the pandemic, echoing IMF claims that this is the time for a world economic shift. ... Read More

UK Ambassador Says Integrated Review Responds to ‘Nasty Age in the 21st Century’
Foreign Affairs
UK Ambassador Says Integrated Review Responds to ‘Nasty Age in the 21st Century’
May 7, 2021
by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Following its recent withdrawal from the European Union, the United Kingdom published an Integrated Review setting out a vision for a renewed role in the world. This comprehensive document also underlines that the U.K. and the U.S. take a different approach to global development... Read More

Focused On Diversity And Global Health, Power Takes The Helm of USAID
Foreign Affairs
Focused On Diversity And Global Health, Power Takes The Helm of USAID
May 5, 2021
by Daniel Mollenkamp

In the middle of her first day as the head of the U.S. Agency for International Development, deep into meetings about inclusivity and diversity in the agency and the rise in coronavirus cases in India, Samantha Power noticed a paper towel slipped under her office door.... Read More

Biden Administration Pledges Aid to India as COVID-19 Cases Surge
Foreign Affairs
Biden Administration Pledges Aid to India as COVID-19 Cases Surge
April 27, 2021
by Reece Nations

NEW DELHI — President Joe Biden vowed to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi secure medical resources to help India combat the rampant spread of COVID-19 during a diplomatic call on Monday, affirming the United States’ support for its ally after a delay in response drew national... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top