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US draws $4bn investment plan to boost Palestinian economy

The money would come from the private sector, not US taxpayers

Share on Facebook May 27, 2013, Reporter : BigNewsNetwork, Reader : 521


DEAD SEA, Jordan - The United States has unveiled a major economic development package for Palestine wherein Washington will be investing a whopping $4 billion that could cut the 21 per cent unemployment rate in the West Bank by two-thirds.

The announcement of the economic package was made by visiting Secretary of State John F. Kerry with a hope that it will help bridge the peace deal between Palestinians and Israel.

"The greatest existential threat and the greatest economic threat to both sides is the lack of peace," Kerry said. "To not try to head these off would be tragic, and it would be irresponsible."

Kerry said the "ground-shaking" plan to bolster the Palestinian economy centered on drawing tourism to the West Bank, as well as enticing companies to build and locate businesses like information technology in the region.

Business heads around the world are being tapped to lead the venture, Kerry said.

The idea is to drum up "some $4 billion of investment" with potential to "increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years", Kerry said, at the World Economic Forum in Jordan.

"The most optimistic estimates foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by two-thirds to 8 percent down from 21 percent and to increase the media wage by 40 percent," Kerry said.

The Secretary of State said international business leaders rallied by former British prime minister Tony Blair would propose new agricultural, construction and other investment to the Palestinian Authority that could increase the gross domestic product by 50 per cent over three years.

He however gave no details on participating companies or about the content or timing of individual proposed investments.

The money would come from the private sector, not US taxpayers, he said.

Kerry addressed a World Economic Forum meeting after speeches by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

The gathering on the shores of the Dead Sea in Jordan was a rare direct meeting between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not attend.

Peres and Abbas thanked Kerry for his efforts and pledged willingness to make peace.

"I have an agreement here which you both can come up and sign," Kerry joked. "We'll get there, we'll get there."

Kerry has made restarting peace talks the main objective of his tenure as secretary of state, devoting much of the past three months to preparations that ask both sides to make good-faith concessions that would improve the atmosphere for talks.

He said last week that his goal is talks without preconditions, which he called the bane of past attempts. >more...

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