Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity plan met with guarded enthusiasm

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of Dubai-based Emaar Properties, talks to an Israeli radio journalist at the Peace to Prosperity conference in Manama. (Reuters)
Updated 26 June 2019

Kushner’s Peace to Prosperity plan met with guarded enthusiasm

  • Palestine is very important for all Arabs, says Alabbar, UAE property magnate

MANAMA: Business leaders from the US and the Middle East reacted with guarded enthusiasm to the Peace to Prosperity plan presented by White House special adviser Jared Kushner to an audience of global decision-makers in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

Stephen Schwarzman, chairman and CEO of the big investment business Blackstone Group, said the plan “could happen in the right circumstances. We all have to have a dream, and this is a very sensible dream.”

Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of the UAE property and leisure group Emaar, said Palestine is very important for all Arabs.

“The issue is very close to our hearts. Everyone of us is Palestinian at heart, and I feel I represent them here tonight,” he said in reference to the absence of Palestinian Authority delegates at the event.

Earlier, the audience of business leaders and policymakers from around the world listened attentively as Kushner unveiled details of the $50 billion plan to revive the Palestinian and regional economy.

He is hoping to attract investment from Middle Eastern and other governments, as well as private enterprise from around the world, for the proposals, which are designed to revive the Palestinian economy, create 1 million jobs and cut the poverty rate in the occupied territories.

HIGHLIGHT

The audience of business leaders and policymakers from around the world listened attentively as Kushner unveiled details of the $50 billion plan to revive the Palestinian and regional economy.

About $27 billion of the total is earmarked for Palestine, and only 20 percent of that will be straight equity.

“That’s only $5.5 billion, and it’s not that much money. It’s a good-sized proposal you’d expect to be financing at the World Bank,” Schwarzman said.

“This type of transformation is financially doable. It’s a question of whether there’s the political will.”

Alabbar said he had been a big investor in the region around Palestine for 12 years, and in some ways it was easier to do business in the Middle East than in North America, where getting planning permission for big developments could take as long as seven years.

He pointed to Emaar’s successful developments in Serbia as an example of “a war-torn region that has come good.”

Schwarzman gave examples from his firm’s investments in Uganda and Poland as the kind of transformational investments Palestine needs.

Both men were asked what effect Kushner’s proposals would have shown in two years’ time. “I think we’d all be overjoyed if this situation was normalized,” Schwarzman replied. Alabbar said: “I think the velocity of the change could surprise us all positively.”


Israeli security agency says it arrested alleged Iran spy

Updated 9 min 13 sec ago

Israeli security agency says it arrested alleged Iran spy

  • The Shin Bet alleged in a statement the man was in contact with Iranian agents abroad, where he was given money, guidance and encryption tools
  • Israel and Iran are bitter enemies who have long fought a shadow war that over the last year has increasingly spilled out into the open

JERUSALEM: Israel’s domestic security agency said Tuesday it arrested an Israeli citizen alleged to have spied for Iran.
The Shin Bet alleged in a statement the man was in contact with Iranian agents abroad, where he was given money, guidance and encryption tools.
The Shin Bet said the man was expected to provide information on strategic Israeli sites, ways to promote division in Israeli society, carry out attacks against Israeli targets and enlist Arab citizens of Israel to assist Iran.
The man, whose identity was barred from publication by an Israeli court, was arrested last month and indicted Tuesday for “serious security-related offenses.”
The Shin Bet said the arrest highlights Iranian efforts “to carry out spy and terror activity within Israel, this also at a time when the world is facing the coronavirus epidemic which has badly spread in Iran.”
Iran is facing the worst virus outbreak in the Middle East. Iran’s state TV said Tuesday the new coronavirus has killed another 133 people, pushing the country’s death toll to 3,872 amid 62,589 confirmed cases.
Israel and Iran are bitter enemies who have long fought a shadow war that over the last year has increasingly spilled out into the open. And although both countries are occupied with fighting COVID-19, the illness caused by the new virus, hostilities between them remain.