Palestinians not buying Obama administration’s economic track for peace

( Responding to the Obama administration’s plans to supplement its diplomatic efforts in the Middle East with an economic initiative, Palestinians are not buying what the U.S. is selling, the Wall Street Journal reported.

According to the newspaper, the Obama administration initiative—whose partners will include the U.S. Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., the U.S. Agency for International Development, and private U.S. companies—plans to combine U.S. investment in economic improvements for the Palestinians with “a focus on allowing greater freedom of movement by Palestinians throughout the West Bank and an easing of Israeli restrictions on business.” Additionally, the administration is “betting that economic improvements will encourage Palestinians to view peace talks positively,” the report said.

“Economic growth will help us be able to provide… greater confidence about moving forward [in the peace process],” Secretary of State John Kerry said during his visit to Israel this week. “This is not in lieu of, or an alternative to, the political track.”

Palestinians, however, so far are skeptical about the proposed economic track. Saad Khatib, the former secretary-general of the Palestinian Federation of Industries, called the plan a “Band-Aid solution on a cancer.”

“If we really want Palestinians to believe this is assistance that is aimed at improving their life, then it has to be coupled with a political will to ensure that they will benefit from it,” Khatib said, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Additionally, a Palestinian official close to the negotiations told the Wall Street Journal, “John Kerry can say whatever he wants. There is no optimism Netanyahu is going to do anything.”

Posted on April 12, 2013 .