White House unveils part of Middle East 'deal of the century' plan

US Navy the USS Abraham Lincoln sails in the Arabian Sea near the amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge

Washington announced the conference on Sunday and described it as the unveiling of the first part of President Donald Trump's long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian diplomat and negotiator, said: "All efforts to make the oppressor and the oppressed coexist are doomed to fail ..."

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said his government was not informed of the investment conference in advance. It said the conference would not address the contentious political aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict, such as final borders or the status of Jerusalem and right of return for Palestinian refugees.

Shtayyeh reiterated Palestinians' demands for a two-state peace deal with Israel entailing control of the West Bank and Gaza, as well as East Jerusalem as their future capital. "The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives".

Trump has touted the coming plan as the "deal of the century" but Palestinian officials have rebuked the United States effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favour of Israel.

The conference will bring together government and business leaders to help jump-start the economic portion of the broader U.S. peace initiative, which is also expected to include proposals for resolving thorny political issues at the heart of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf".

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"We're looking not to make this about no discussion of the political" aspect of the plan at this time, the senior administration official said.

While he says both Israelis and Palestinians will have to make compromises, the U.S. will not jeopardize Israel's security. The plan focuses on infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people and reforming the Palestinian government.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel back to Washington, DC at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York, U.S., May 17, 2019.

Mr Trump closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and stopped funding the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees, slashing hundreds of millions of dollars in aid for projects in the West Bank and Gaza and for Palestinians displaced across the region, and cut funding to hospitals in Jerusalem that serve Palestinians.

Nur Arafeh, an analyst with Palestinian policy think tank Al Shabaka, said the Bahrain conference is in "line with the historical American approach to solving the so-called conflict..." Kushner is said to have modeled details of the economic proposal on what has worked in Poland, Japan, Singapore, and South Korea. It's an open question as to whether the Palestinians will exchange some or all of their demands for the prospect of economic prosperity.

A spokesman for Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon said: "We have not yet received an invitation".

A senior administration official, speaking on background, said that the goal of the plan would be to harness grant, low-interest loans, and private investment toward growing the Palestinian economy and raising the Palestinian standard of living as a foundation for peace.

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