The United States will co-host an economic “workshop” with Bahrain to encourage investment in the occupied Palestinian territories “that could be made possible by a peace agreement”, the White House said on Sunday.
“Peace to Prosperity will facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region,” said the statement.
The June 25-26 conference in Manama is expected to bring together government, business and civil leaders to gather support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be possible with a peace agreement, the statement said.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted his plan for peace between Palestinians and Israelis as the “deal of the century”.
But Palestinian officials have rebuked the US effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favour of Israel. The peace plan has been put together without participation from the Palestinians.
Core political issues
Trump’s Middle East team, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and regional envoy Jason Greenblatt, appear to initially focus on the potential economic benefits of the plan, despite deep scepticism among experts that they can succeed where decades of US-backed efforts have failed.
Kushner has declined to say whether the plan will include a two-state solution, a key goal of other peace efforts.
“Economic progress can only be achieved with a solid economic vision and if the core political issues are resolved,” said Kushner in a statement on Sunday. “We look forward to presenting our vision on ways to bridge the core political issues very soon.”
He added: “The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives.”
Typical Trump playbook
Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane in Washington said the announcement “is really just following the typical Trump playbook when it comes to foreign affairs”, which is to point out the economic benefits of whatever political or diplomatic change the White House wants.
It is not a strategy that has worked elsewhere, she pointed out, such as North Korea.
She said that Kuchner is expected to invite treasury secretaries and finance ministers from all over the world to the June event.
“They say they want to focus on four areas, one is infrastructure, other industry, empowering and investing in people and reforming the government for the Palestinian people.
“This is an administration that has taken hundreds of millions of dollars away from the Palestinians in the form of aid to the Palestinians and to the United Nations. So their request that other countries replace that money, well it remains to be seen how well that’s going to be received.”
US officials had said earlier the peace plan would be rolled out after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in early June.
However, the announcement of the investors workshop appears to set the stage for a sequenced release of the plan, starting with the economic plan in late June, and later, at some time not yet clear, the political proposals.