"Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary pre-condition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues," Kushner said as he opened a workshop in Bahrain being boycotted by the Palestinian Authority.

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner gives a speech at the opening of the
White House senior adviser Jared Kushner gives a speech at the opening of the "Peace to Prosperity" conference in Manama, Bahrain, June 25, 2019 in this still image taken from a video. (Reuters)

White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Tuesday that his plan for the Middle East was "the opportunity of the century" for the Palestinians but that their acceptance was a pre-condition to peace.

While the two-day meeting will not address political solutions in the Middle East, Kushner acknowledged the need to take them up later.

"To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict – one that guarantees Israel's security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people."

Kushner acknowledged widespread scepticism about the intentions of US President Donald Trump, his father-in-law, who has taken an unapologetically pro-Israel line including recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. 

But Kushner said that the Palestinians have been ill-served by previous peace-making efforts. 

"My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you," he said. 

He dismissed the mocking description of his peace plan as the "deal of the century" but said: "This effort is better referred to as the Opportunity of the Century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it."

Palestinians protest US-led Bahrain conference

Palestinians staged several rallies across Israel-occupied West Bank on Tuesday in protest of the US-led conference in Bahrain.

The two-day event opened in the Bahraini capital, Manama, on Tuesday.

Demonstrators gathered in Hebron [Al-Khalil] city in the southern West Bank, waving banners decrying the conference and participation of Arab delegates in the event.

Similar rallies were held in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Salfit, Qalqilia and Jericho.

In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians staged a general strike in protest of the US-led conference.

"Any plan that includes the liquidation of the Palestinian cause…is rejected by the Palestinians and is not debatable or negotiable," Saeb Erekat, Secretary-General of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s Executive Committee, said in a statement.

"Our right to self-determination, freedom, and independence should be honoured through the implementation of UN resolutions and international law. This is the only way to peace and prosperity," he said.

Participants include UAE and Saudi Arabia

Several Arab states are taking part in the conference, including the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Last week, the White House called for $50 billion in investment for Palestine and neighbouring Arab states as part of the plan, which calls for increased infrastructure projects between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with a stated goal to "empower" the Palestinian people.

The "deal of the century" has yet to be revealed in full, however, based on leaks in the media, it envisages to make major concessions to Israel regarding the status of Jerusalem city and also regarding right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East dispute, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem – occupied by Israel since 1967 – might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority said they will not be attending the conference and have rejected any US role in the mediating process ever since Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017. 

Source: AP