Kushner says economic plan is necessary pre-condition to peace

Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to severe restrictions

Palestinians living in the West Bank are subject to severe restrictions

Guterres was speaking at a pledging conference in NY for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees as President Donald Trump's administration prepared to launch in Bahrain a $50 billion (£39 billion) economic formula for Israeli-Palestinian peace. "Underdevelopment in the Palestinian territories is not the result of natural market forces; it is the direct product of over fifty years of Israeli military occupation and policies explicitly created to stifle the Palestinian economy", the organization Churches for Middle East Peace said in a statement. "Numerous well-intended programs, investments, and plans have been derailed by violence, political instability, and the lack of a resolution to longstanding core issues of this conflict", Kushner began.

"As we know, much of what the Palestinians have been able to do or not able to do what has been proscribed by the Israeli authorities", she added, noting that freedom of movement in the occupied West Bank is "more of a notion rather than a reality".

"Such inciting campaigns aim at making the people and leadership of Palestine accept the dictations, threats, and tyranny of both the U.S. and Israel - and they are doomed to fail", Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO, said in a statement. "Even the most thorough and well-planned economic development proposals will ultimately fail if this most basic condition is not met", the organization continued.

The conference aims to address the $50 billion Middle East economic plan, which hopes to set up a global investment fund to "lift the Palestinian and Arab state economies" and construct a $5 billion transportation corridor that would connect the West Bank with Gaza.

The statement also entailed Saudi Arabia's calls for shared worldwide efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just peace in the region.

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Kushner called the plan "a great effort" but said that "if that was where a deal was going to be made, a deal would have been made a long time ago".

That plan calls for a Palestinian state drawn along borders which predate Israel's capture of territory in the 1967 Middle East war, as well as a capital in East Jerusalem and refugees' right of return - points rejected by Israel. Neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments are attending the curtain-raising event in Manama, which Lebanon and Iraq are staying away from.

But the Palestinians are boycotting the event, accusing President Donald Trump's administration of pro-Israel bias. "It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and between the Israeli position", he added.

"Money is important. The economy is important. If they are going to deprive programs of funding, they can not get away with repackaging them into a brochure and claiming victory", Soifer said. "The political solution is more important", PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday.

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