Israel news summary

Israel News for 6-24-2019

Security Meeting
PM Netanyahu met with US National Security Advisor John Bolton in Jerusalem on Sunday. Their discussion focused primarily on the Iranian crisis. On Tuesday Bolton will meet with his Israel and Russian counterparts.

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Peace Plan
In an interview with news agency Reuters, Jared Kushner gave details of the plan that will be presented in a few days’ time at the planned “peace workshop” in Bahrain on economic development in the Palestinian Authority and in the three neighboring countries, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.

Under the plan, a $50 billion fund will be set up. Of this, $28 billion will be for the areas under the control of the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, which is rules by Hamas. $7.5 billion will be for Jordan, $9 billion for Egypt, and $6.5 billion for Lebanon. The White House hopes that the wealthy Gulf states will be the main contributors to the economic fund, with the US also contributing.

The fund will be managed by an international development bank with a board of management that will decide on allocations of funds to regional projects. Some $15 billion will be awarded in the form of grants, $25 billion will be loans, and $11 billion will be based on private capital funds.

The plan is to finance 179 projects in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, alongside development and financing of projects in Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon. Among the projects are infrastructure improvements, and water, energy, telecommunications, tourism, and healthcare building projects. An amount will be allocated to a large infrastructure project connecting the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula for purposes of trade and services.

The plan also proposes a project for connecting the Gaza Strip to the West Bank to make movement of people and goods between the two parts of the Palestinian people easier. Under the plan, this project will be completed within two years and will be financed by grants.

The plan offers grants of up to $1 billion for business proposals for developing tourism in the Palestinian Authority and the Gaza Strip, including the renovation and reconstruction of historic and religious sites and rehabilitation of beaches.

Kushner said that if the plan went ahead it would double Palestinian GDP within a decade, create a million jobs in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, reduce unemployment to below 10%, and cut poverty by 50%.

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the Bahrain meeting and has already pledged to reject any US peace plan.

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Arab Finances
Arab finance ministers held an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss helping the Palestinian Authority cope with a deepening financial crisis, since the PA has refused to accept Israeli transfer of Palestinian Authority tax revenue collected at Israeli ports. The PA is refusing the transfers because Israel is withholding 5% of the total as a penalty for PA payments to terrorists and their families. The 5% equals the amount paid out to the terrorists.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has refused to accept any of the tax revenues, which totaled NIS 700 million ($193 million) in January and which account for about half of the PA’s budget.

The Palestinian Authority said in March it was cutting civil servants’ salaries by half. Only its lowest-earning employees, or the 40 percent of its workforce who earn NIS 2,000 or less a month, would be paid full salary, it said.

The Arab finance minister are likely to provide interim financing to cover the PA employee salaries.

[Of course, the other option would be for the PA to stop rewarding terrorists and simply accept the money that Israel is transferring to them. But apparently, making life better for its people would not be helping “the cause”.]

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