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By Olivia Pierson
First published on Insight@theBFD 30/01/2020
President Trump’s ambitious plan to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has resulted in the laying out a detailed road map for a prosperous Palestinian society. It relies on the vision of a two-state solution, something which Netanyahu had lost faith in.
The Peace to Prosperity 181-page document is endorsed by both Bibi Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz, regardless of which one wins the upcoming legislative elections in March.
Unlike the plan laid out during the famous Oslo Accords in 1993, this peace plan directly addresses important topics such as borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem. The plan is concrete, practical, respectful of long-standing differences and requires strong concessions from both sides.
The Oslo Accords, however, left numerous key issues unresolved pending the completion of permanent status negotiations, including, among other items, borders, security, refugees and Jerusalem. Those agreements did not create an effective path for neutralizing the kinds of crises that emerged during the implementation of Oslo, including waves of terror and violence. Many intelligent and dedicated people have devoted lifetimes in search of the “ultimate deal,” but what is required, a comprehensive agreement has been elusive, and waves of terror and violence have set back the process significantly. Only a comprehensive agreement, coupled with a strong economic plan for the Palestinians and others, has the capacity to bring lasting peace to the parties.
[‘Peace to Prosperity,’ Introduction, page 3]
Highly aware that many people in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank largely benefit from the status quo, therefore will remain opposed to the deal, the United States seeks to facilitate a solution and has collected ideas from around the world, compiled them and proposed recommendations they believe are realistic to affect a resolution to the long-standing conflict. Although other ‘well-meaning’ countries and organisations have made some input, the U.S is resigned to the reality that only the Israelis and Palestinians themselves can forge a lasting peace together by working out the final, specific details.
What are the key concessions in this proposed plan for peace?
On an economic level, the proposal paints a strong and optimistic “vision” for the future in the “Trump Economic Plan” for Palestine, which is apportioned into three major initiatives. It doesn’t come much better than having a businessman as competent as the U.S president to help construct your economy from the bottom up – especially considering the economic boom America is currently experiencing.
The first initiative will unleash the economic potential of the Palestinian people. By developing property and contract rights, the rule of law, anti-corruption measures, capital markets, a pro-growth tax structure, and a low-tariff scheme with reduced trade barriers, this initiative envisions policy reforms coupled with strategic infrastructure investments that will improve the business environment and stimulate private-sector growth. Hospitals, schools, homes, and businesses will secure reliable access to affordable electricity, clean water, and digital services. Billions of dollars of new investment will flow into various sectors of the Palestinian economy. Businesses will have increased access to capital, and the markets of the West Bank and Gaza will be connected with key trading partners, including Egypt, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon. The resulting economic growth has the potential to end the current unemployment crisis and transform the West Bank and Gaza into a center of opportunity.
The second initiative will empower the Palestinian people to realize their ambitions. Through new data-driven, outcomes-based education options at home, expanded online education platforms, increased vocational and technical training, and the prospect of international exchanges, this initiative will enhance and expand a variety of programs that directly improve the well-being of the Palestinian people. It will strengthen the Palestinian educational system and ensure that students can fulfill their academic goals and be prepared for the workforce.
The third initiative will enhance Palestinian governance, improving the public sector’s ability to serve its citizens and enable private-sector growth. This initiative will support the public sector in undertaking the improvements and reforms necessary to achieve long-term economic success. A commitment to upholding property rights, improving the legal and regulatory framework for businesses, adopting a growth-oriented, enforceable tax structure, and developing robust capital markets will increase exports and foreign direct investment. A fair and independent judicial branch will ensure this pro-growth environment is protected and that civil society flourishes. New systems and policies will help bolster government transparency and accountability. International partners will work to eliminate the Palestinian public sector’s donor dependency and put the Palestinians on a trajectory to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability. Institutions will be modernized and made more efficient to facilitate the most effective delivery of essential services for the citizens. With the support of the Palestinian leadership, this initiative can usher in a new era of prosperity and opportunity for the Palestinian people and institutionalize the policies required for successful economic transformation.
[‘Peace to Prosperity’, Section 6, The Trump Economic Plan, pages 19-20]
This is what the Palestinians could and should have been doing since the 1970s.
There are still those who claim that a two-state solution can never work for Israel and a return to pre-1967 borders is a dangerous status quo for the Jewish state to aspire to.
I have written before about the Palestinians in very unflattering tones befitting their leaders’ constant rejections of any peace deal in the past which would have seen them as a nation create, instead of destroy.
Here were Yasser Arafat’s words to Oriana Fallaci in 1972 when she asked him about a peace deal during an interview:
“We won’t accept it. Never! We will continue to make war on Israel by ourselves until we get Palestine back. The end of Israel is the goal of our struggle and it allows for neither compromise nor mediation.”
And that’s the same mindset that Trump, Netanyahu and Gantz are still up against.
If you enjoyed this article, please buy my book "Western Values Defended: A Primer"
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