US Secretary of State John Kerry took the wraps off an ambitious plan to kick-start the stalled economy in the West Bank through a $4 billion (Dh14.71 billion) infrastructure and development fund. The economic stimulus will, according to Kerry’s announcement at the World Economic Forum in Jordan, go hand-in-hand with an attempt to restart the Middle East peace process.
According to the US blueprint for economic revival, private-sector money will be invested to fund projects to boost growth, provide real work opportunities for Palestinians, develop agriculture, build more homes and make the West Bank more enticing for tourists.
Significantly, however, Kerry did not give any details where the $4 billion would come from, but the former British prime minister, Tony Blair, the so-called “Quartet Ambassador”, would be responsible for overseeing the economic revival. While the blueprint does sound good and provides the necessary sound bites for Kerry in Jordan, there is a sad and harsh reality that cannot be ignored: Palestinian destiny, be it political or economic, lies with a just resolution to Israel’s illegal occupation, its bigotry and racist laws and its illegal building of homes for colonists.
How can an economic revival plan for the West Bank go ahead while Palestinians in Gaza who live under a virtual state of siege, their water resources are controlled by Israel, their electricity supplies turned off at the whim of the Jewish state? Palestinian land, politics, people and economics are not divisible. A just solution cannot be ensured by economics alone.