April 6, 2020

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Palestinian in EuroNews channels Bibi, wants bottom-up economic peace


Omar Hassan in Euronews writes:

Whatever one thinks of President Trump’s so-called Middle East “Deal of the Century” unveiled last month, it is clearly not a workable plan for peace in the short-term. Rather than a top-down solution crafted in Washington DC (a strategy that has failed for three decades), the world should focus on “quick wins” to reinvigorate the Palestinian economy from the bottom up, and increase startup programmes, business ties and social integration between Israelis and Palestinians.

…Pro-Palestinian activists might wonder how I can dare to focus on issues such as incomes and livelihoods when the “real issue” is justice for the Palestinian people. But an economic life, including one that brings them closer to their neighbours, is a precursor to any political settlement.

Whatever one’s views on the emotive issues in Trump’s plan, such as the right to return and the capital of the proposed Palestinian state, the day-to-day reality for ordinary Palestinians must still be addressed. It’s easy to dream of a Palestinian state. It is much harder to work to create living conditions that would make that state worth living in.

But the real benefit of focusing on economic development for Palestinians isn’t just in providing hope to a disenfranchised society, giving their youth something to live for, and providing a counter-narrative to the extremists who are happy for them to have no alternative to stone throwing.

If Palestinian entrepreneurship (which is recognised and admired across the region) can be harnessed, the social divisions between Arabs and Israelis will start to dissolve. As long as the two communities cannot live and work together side by side, the conflict will remain intractable, which is why Palestinians should be given greater access to Israel’s successful tech industry and start up scene.

The weird thing is that Hassan must not have read the Trump “Peace to Prosperity” plan, because the bulk of that plan gives specific ways to build up the Palestinian economy.

Hassan sounds almost exactly like Bibi Netanyahu back in 2008:

Likud chairman Benjamin Netanyahu told the closing plenary of the United Jewish Communities General Assembly Wednesday that the peace process needs to focus on economic issues and not political disagreements.

Instead of talking about contentious issues such as the status of Jerusalem, the first step to a lasting peace needs to be the fostering of the Palestinians’ economic situation, he said.

“Right now, the peace talks are based only one thing, only on peace talks,” he said. “It makes no sense at this point to talk about the most contractible issue. It’s Jerusalem or bust, or right of return or bust. That has led to failure and is likely to lead to failure again.”

Netanyahu used much of his 40-minute speech to delineate his own plan for the future of the peace process, which he said will be based on areas that are already agreed on.

“We must weave an economic peace alongside a political process,” Netanyahu said. “That means that we have to strengthen the moderate parts of the Palestinian economy by handing rapid growth in those area, rapid economic growth that gives a stake for peace for the ordinary Palestinians.”

Maybe Hassan knows very well that his ideas came from Bibi and Kushner and Greenblatt. But he knows that if he admits it, no one will take him seriously. So perhap he is saying that “economic peace” is the opposite of the Trump plan – in order to get more Palestinians to support it.

(h/t Tomer Ilan)

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