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Kushner says US Middle East plan is ‘opportunity of the century’ for Palestinians

MANAMA (Bahrain): White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner has described the United States’ plan for the Middle East as “the opportunity of the century” for the Palestinians.

Kushner said that Palestinian acceptance of the plan was a precondition to peace.

Kushner comment came during a workshop in Bahrain, billed as the first part of Washington’s broader plan to resolve decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The two-day event in Bahrain’s capital, Manama, has been boycotted by the Palestinian Authority, which has rejected it as an ill-fated attempt to “liquidate the Palestinian cause”. The US did not invite Israeli government representatives, but several officials from regional countries are in attendance.

Addressing the attendees, Kushner said: “Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues.”

While the workshop will not address political solutions, Kushner recognised in his speech 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,” he said.

Trump has taken an unapologetically pro-Israel line during his presidency, with moves including his controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017. Kushner acknowledged widespread scepticism about the US president’s intentions but said the Palestinians had been ill-served by previous peacemaking 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 the US 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.”