The economic portion of much awaited Jared Kushner’s Arab peace plan has been revealed by White House on June 22, 2019. The United States has proposed to create a US$50 billion global investment fund for the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states. President Trump has termed it as the “deal of the century”. According to the document, the US will spend US$25 billion dollars on Palestinian territories, while the rest of the money will be spent on Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon. The economic plan offers US$5 billion annual grant for infrastructure development and to promote tourism industry in Palestine. A transportation corridor will be built to connect West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Apparently, the economic portion of Arab peace plan seems attractive but it carries immense political misperceptions and loopholes that can be exploited by Israel prior, during and after its implementation. Firstly, the economic plan does not appear to be holistic in nature. It has promised to provide financial assistance to Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon, whereas Atlantic Council and UN Relief work Agency estimates suggest that there are around 550,000 registered Palestinian refugees in Syria. However, due to Trump’s antagonistic policies towards Assad’s regime, the economic plan deliberately ignored Palestinian refugees in Syria.

Secondly, the two years of Presidential proclamations reflect Trump’s partisan intentions to the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered to shut down the office of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) in Washington. The aid for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees - UNRWA has been slashed. Overall, Washington has bestowed international legitimacy to Tel Aviv and curbed every possible element of Palestinian resistance. The two years baggage will not allow Palestinians to accept this economic plan.

Thirdly, the plan promises the establishment of a transportation corridor between West Bank and Gaza Strip. This will improve commercial activities and people to people contacts among Palestinian citizens. However, neither has it discussed modalities or American reaction if the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) blocks this corridor nor provides assurances of its protection from Israeli aggression. IDF is used to of destroying civilian infrastructure during conflicts. For instance from December 27, 2008 to January 18, 2009, IDF destroyed some 3,540 homes, 268 factories and warehouses, as well as schools, vehicles, water wells, public infrastructure, greenhouses and large swathes of agricultural land. Such kinds of events create serious doubts over the sustainability of the proposed corridor. History suggests that this important project is doomed to fail as numerous aid projects have been failed due Israeli strict control.

The primary objective of the economic plan is to improve economy of the West Bank and Gaza Strip and other Palestinian refugees in Lebanon and Jordan. For this purpose, 179 infrastructure development projects have been listed in the plan. However, this plan does not provide any compensation to existing ruined infrastructure of Palestinian territory due to Israeli bombings, which remained the exclusive reason of grim economic situation in Palestinian territory. Various estimates suggest that Palestinians have lost around US$77 billion dollars’ worth of economy due to Israel’s indiscriminate bombings on civilian population. Israel gets to pick and choose which organizations can work in Palestine. No Palestinian trader or entrepreneur can operate in Gaza without the permission of IDF. The siege of Gaza has further created enabling environment for poverty and acute shortage of goods and curtailed the commercial activities in the area. The plan lacks to address these structural issues that create a hostile environment for economy and commercial activities in Gaza and West Bank.

To conclude, the economic portion of Arab peace plan appears to be structurally flawed and shortsighted. Perhaps, it has been deliberately designed to deflect attention of Palestinians amid strong criticism of Trump’s policies towards Israel-Palestine conflict by international community. This is why, the Palestinian leadership and public has rejected this pie in the sky.