Some perspectives and notes from Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity Confab

Posted By on July 2, 2019

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Some perspectives and notes from Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity Confab

An Overview of the Bahrain Peace to Prosperity Conference, June 25-26, 2019. Here is a series of Op-Eds, segments of important comments, and links toi interesting information.

What you will find below in this post:

Jared Kushner addressing the Peace to Prosperity Conference, providing details for a strategy to empower Palestinians as a part of a planned political solution with Israel. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Jared Kushner addressing the Peace to Prosperity Conference, providing details for a strategy to empower Palestinians as a part of a planned political solution with Israel. Photo courtesy of Ray Hanania

Empowering Palestinians means delivering the promises

By Ray Hanania

Jared Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled this week in Manama, Bahrain set ambitious goals including doubling the GDP of the Palestinian people and reducing Palestine’s high unemployment rate to under 10 percent.

Those are not minor hurdles when the unemployment rate is 30 percent in the West Bank and 50 percent in the Gaza Strip, according to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, who spoke at the two-day conference June 25 and 26.

While Kushner’s plan proposes investments of nearly $30 billion in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and $20 billion in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, money alone will not be enough if the people are not given opportunities to work and develop their own entrepreneurial skills, business leaders warned during a panel discussion entitled “Empowering the People.”

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Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas moderated the “Empowering the People” panel which featured four distinguished business leaders, CEO of the Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority Osama Al-Absi, DHL CEO for the Middle East and Africa Amadou Diallo, SUN Group of India Shiv Khemka and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.

Abbas praised the “impressive and detailed” Peace to Prosperity plan, but said that to succeed, “the political will must be there.”

Khemka said that India has succeeded in overcoming similar challenges that Palestine faces. If the challenges can be overcome in India, they can be overcome anywhere,” he said.

“We come from a country where actually the problem doesn’t seem very large. In India, we have 1.3 billion people, so we need to create 1.3 million jobs a month for the next 30 years. We have extreme poverty and wealth. We have all kinds of conflict and all kinds of issues. If you start off with your assumption is the political will is there, then I think there is no reason at all why this plan can’t succeed” in Palestine.

Abbas asked his panel, “Will the Western-driven opportunity be welcomed (in Palestine) pending the political solution and the participation of both parties?”

Moreno said that based on a cursory visit he had to the West Bank, where he saw the successes against the existing conflicts, he believes “the political will is present and can be nurtured” among Palestinians.

“Clearly, a plan like this is only as good as the people who are willing to implement them,” said Moreno who noted he was impressed by the Rawabi Palestinian neighborhood being built just outside of Ramallah.

“The more important thing in any case is the political will to get behind something where people will eventually really build the potential for developing their own country.”

Moreno said he also visited Nablus where he witnessed how sports, entertainment and culture have empowered the determination of the nearly 5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Al-Absi, who has been working in Bahrain where he has helped to reduce the unemployment rate from 17 percent to about 4 percent in an 11 year period, cautioned that the worst thing to do is to raise expectations and then not follow through.

“A pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist. And I am a realist. It is doable but you have to approach this with a lot of practicality. What we have seen last night (Kushner’s plan) a very ambitious plan,” said Al-Absi who emphasized you have to manage expectations.

“Today the working age in Palestine, according to 2013 numbers, we are looking at 42 percent working age below 40, and 15 percent between 40 and 64, that makes 57 percent working age. Currently they are idle, waiting without expectations. You are going to come up with a plan, a peace plan and an economic plan, you are going to raise their expectations. You have to prepare them, otherwise this can all go south. To approach this, you have to take into account the existing skills of the demographics broken down.”

Diallo said if you want to shape the future, you can’t be looking backwards in the rear view mirror. Success is driven by optimism and confidence. You have to focus on the future ahead as well.

“How you create opportunity is by also having leadership that has aspirations to change the way people live in their own communities. That is something that has to be done locally because it cannot be done from outside. The people have to fight for that. I have seen that happen in Asia, in Pakistan but also here in the region,” Diallo explained.

“How do you open up opportunities so that people can fly in and fly out easily. How do you open up opportunities so that goods can move in and move out easily. You create entrepreneurs who have opportunities that are beyond the village and their city and competing with everyone else, competing in the global world. That is what I call inclusion.”

Audio podcast of Jared Kushner’s Opening Remarks at the Peace to Prosperity Conference

Click here to listen to the podcast of Jared Kushner’s opening remarksat the Peace to Prosperity Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel, Manama, Bahrain on Tuesday June 25, 2019. Or use the widget below to listen.


Tony Blair remarks to Jared Kushner

Opening comments by former British Prime Minister Tony Blair during a panel discussion with Jared Kushner on the importance of achieving peace and not ignoring the Two-State Solution for Israel and Palestine.

“This is an economic plan that if it is implemented it is going to do enormous benefit for the Palestinian people. Number 2, it isn’t a substitute for the politics. There will be no economic peace. There will be a peace that will be a political component and an economic component. The economy can help the politics and the politics is necessary for the economy to flourish,” Blair said.

“If you can set the right political framework, then the economics can start to work. Once people feel the economy is getting better and there is some prospect and some hope for the future, then of course you get a benign and virtuous certain going. I remain a believer in the Two-State solution a believer in the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a state. But I know this will only happen if the politics is right and the economics are right, this economic plan is a good basis for doing the economics. The politics has got to be right in this sense as well. The obvious sense people talk about is how do you negotiate the contours of the boundaries of a Palestinian State in a Two State solution.”

Blair emphasized that “Both sides must establish some trust in each other” to make the politics work and then use that to establish a strong basis for the economics.

“It is absolutely foolish to believe you can have economics without sound politics, but it is likewise completely futile to think economics will work without politics buttressing it,” Blair said.

Panel Discussion on Empowering the People of Palestine through economic means

Lead panellist Faisal Abbas, editor-in-chief of the Arab News based in Saudi Arabia, Dubai, London and in Pakistan, hosts a discussion with key leaders.

Empowering Palestinians means delivering the promises

By Ray Hanania

Jared Kushner’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled this week in Manama, Bahrain set ambitious goals including doubling the GDP of the Palestinian people and reducing Palestine’s high unemployment rate to under 10 percent.

Those are not minor hurdles when the unemployment rate is 30 percent in the West Bank and 50 percent in the Gaza Strip, according to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director and Chairman of the International Monetary Fund, who spoke at the two-day conference June 25 and 26.

While Kushner’s plan proposes investments of nearly $30 billion in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, and $20 billion in Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan, money alone will not be enough if the people are not given opportunities to work and develop their own entrepreneurial skills, business leaders warned during a panel discussion entitled “Empowering the People.”

Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal Abbas moderated the “Empowering the People” panel which featured four distinguished business leaders, CEO of the Bahrain Labour Market Regulatory Authority Osama Al-Absi, DHL CEO for the Middle East and Africa Amadou Diallo, SUN Group of India Shiv Khemka and Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno.

Abbas praised the “impressive and detailed” Peace to Prosperity plan, but said that to succeed, “the political will must be there.”

Khemka said that India has succeeded in overcoming similar challenges that Palestine faces. If the challenges can be overcome in India, they can be overcome anywhere,” he said.

“We come from a country where actually the problem doesn’t seem very large. In India, we have 1.3 billion people, so we need to create 1.3 million jobs a month for the next 30 years. We have extreme poverty and wealth. We have all kinds of conflict and all kinds of issues. If you start off with your assumption is the political will is there, then I think there is no reason at all why this plan can’t succeed” in Palestine.

Abbas asked his panel, “Will the Western-driven opportunity be welcomed (in Palestine) pending the political solution and the participation of both parties?”

Moreno said that based on a cursory visit he had to the West Bank, where he saw the successes against the existing conflicts, he believes “the political will is present and can be nurtured” among Palestinians.

“Clearly, a plan like this is only as good as the people who are willing to implement them,” said Moreno who noted he was impressed by the Rawabi Palestinian neighborhood being built just outside of Ramallah.

“The more important thing in any case is the political will to get behind something where people will eventually really build the potential for developing their own country.”

Moreno said he also visited Nablus where he witnessed how sports, entertainment and culture have empowered the determination of the nearly 5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Al-Absi, who has been working in Bahrain where he has helped to reduce the unemployment rate from 17 percent to about 4 percent in an 11 year period, cautioned that the worst thing to do is to raise expectations and then not follow through.

“A pessimist is what an optimist calls a realist. And I am a realist. It is doable but you have to approach this with a lot of practicality. What we have seen last night (Kushner’s plan) a very ambitious plan,” said Al-Absi who emphasized you have to manage expectations.

“Today the working age in Palestine, according to 2013 numbers, we are looking at 42 percent working age below 40, and 15 percent between 40 and 64, that makes 57 percent working age. Currently they are idle, waiting without expectations. You are going to come up with a plan, a peace plan and an economic plan, you are going to raise their expectations. You have to prepare them, otherwise this can all go south. To approach this, you have to take into account the existing skills of the demographics broken down.”

Diallo said if you want to shape the future, you can’t be looking backwards in the rearview mirror. Success is driven by optimism and confidence. You have to focus on the future ahead as well.

“How you create opportunity is by also having leadership that has aspirations to change the way people live in their own communities. That is something that has to be done locally because it cannot be done from outside. The people have to fight for that. I have seen that happen in Asia, in Pakistan but also here in the region,” Diallo explained.

“How do you open up opportunities so that people can fly in and fly out easily. How do you open up opportunities so that goods can move in and move out easily. You create entrepreneurs who have opportunities that are beyond the village and their city and competing with everyone else, competing in the global world. That is what I call inclusion.”

Kushner tells Arab News “Door will remain open” to Palestinians despite their “no show”

By Ray Hanania

Jared Kushner ended the two-day “Peace to Prosperity” conference Wednesday holding an impromptu press conference calling the workshop “a remarkable couple of days” and being pressed by Israeli reporters who demanded to know what consequences Palestinians would face for refusing to come to the conference.

Kushner said the conflict is a “solvable problem economically,” and added, “The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true and I do want to show them that this is the plan, this is what could happen if there is a peace deal.”

Kushner said he planned to follow up with investors to secure the funding, adding, “Once we have that, we will roll into the political plan but we will do it with a context of people having the opportunity to digest what is possible.”

Kushner said it was a “Constant theme” during the conference “that this (plan) is actually very doable.”

Kushner’s press secretary carefully managed who could ask Kushner questions, saying he would only allow four and went out of his way to allow several Israeli journalists, including from i24 Israeli TV and The Times of Israel, to ask questions.  But when the press secretary waived me off, I asked if he would take a question from the only Palestinian reporter present writing for the Arab News Newspaper. Kushner intervened and said, “yes.” 

In response to Israeli questions pushing Kushner to detail what “consequences” Palestinian leaders would face for refusing to attend the conference, my question specifically asked if he was going to close the door or leave the door open to the Palestinians as his vision for economic peace moved forward.

“If they actually want to make their people’s lives better we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” Kushner responded.

“We have left the door open the whole time. One thing you have seen with me is I tend not to get emotional about transactions at the end of the day, I understand people have their domestic politics and people have different ways of reacting. I think what you have seen from us is that we have been very respectful, very straight forward. We have been very deliberate. We take actions and not weighing the political consequences. We have been weighing what is right and wrong.”

Kushner said Trump has delivered on his promises to everyone and will deliver on his promise to Palestinians. 

“President Trump has said he wants to help the Palestinians achieve a better future for themselves and I hope they will take it very seriously that he has been trying to do that. Hopefully what you have seen the last couple of days shows there has been a lot of effort on a very high level a lot of resources devoted to it,” Kushner said.

“We are going to keep forward and we will put out our political plan at the right time. I do think that one of the things from today is that it will be very hard for people to go back to looking at this through a traditional lens. I do think that hopefully we have helped people look at it a little bit differently and that is one of our goals.”

Click here to read this story in the Arab News

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Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning political and humor columnist who analyzes American and Middle East politics, and life in general. He is an author of several books.

"I write about three topics, the Middle East, politics and life in general. I often take my life experiences and offer them in an entertaining way to readers, and I take on the toughest topics like the Israel-Palestine conflict and don't pull any punches about what I feel is fair. But, my priority is always about writing the good story."

Hanania covered Chicago Politics and Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992. Hanania began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He later published “The National Arab American Times” newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East food stores in 48 American States (2004-2007).

Hanania writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at www.ArabNews.com, and at www.TheArabDailyNews.com, www.TheDailyHookah.com and at SuburbanChicagoland.com. He has also published weekly columns in the Jerusalem Post newspaper, YNetNews.com, Newsday Newspaper in New York, the Orlando Sentinel Newspapers, and the Arlington Heights Daily Herald.

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media. In 2009, Hanania received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. He was honored for his writing skills with two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild. In 1990, Hanania was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times editors for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

His writings have also been honored by two national Awards from ADC for his writing, and from the National Arab American Journalists Association.

The managing editor of Suburban Chicagoland Online News website www.SuburbanChicagoland.com, Hanania's columns also appear in the Southwest News Newspaper Group of 8 newspapers.

Click here to send Ray Hanania and email.

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Visit this link to read Ray's column archive at the ArabNews,com ArabNews.com/taxonomy/term/10906
Ray Hanania

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