The text of PEACE TO PROSPERITY THE ECONOMIC PLAN: A NEW VISION FOR THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE has just been released by the The White House
One major problem: “Additional investment will finance the development of a transportation corridor directly connecting the West Bank and Gaza through a major road and, potentially, a modern rail line. These improvements will reduce the complications of travel for Palestinians and remove impediments that delay or prevent goods from reaching end markets by directly connecting population centers and easing barriers to movement.”
If the program was to integrate the West Bank and Gaza Strip into the Israeli rail system to efficiently move cargo between the two locations and beyond that would be fantastic. There’s a right of way for a rail line through Erez Crossing and the construction of a new rail line complete with a terminal has been working its way through the Israeli planning approval system and Israel also has detailed plans for extending rail service within the West Bank.
It is conceivable to have some kind of arrangement for passenger trains as well – subject to security arrangements and also subject to dramatic changes in the Gaza Strip so that the link isn’t exploited to move terrorists between Gaza and the West bank.
BUT a major road between the West Bank and Gaza Strip is out of the question as this means creating a corridor that splits Israel in half. Yes, there is a reference to such an arrangement in the Oslo Agreements, but we are a lot more realistic today.
Some neat things:
#1. “This program will support the development of state-of-the-art industrial zones…Part of the funding provided by this project will be dedicated to the development of joint facilities with neighboring countries…”
Set up a series of state-of-the-art industrial zones adjacent to Israel that are joint facilities with Israel and you have a SURE WINNER!!!
And this can be done IMMEDIATELY WITHOUT THE COOPERATION OF THE PA. The Palestinian business community will eagerly join in regardless of what the PA says.
#3. “This project will encourage the construction of new infrastructure to facilitate trade and transportation across the West Bank and Gaza, Jordan, Egypt, Israel, and Lebanon. From the improvement of neighboring countries’ airports and seaports to the development of a regional natural gas trading hub.”
Excellent that the plan does not get involved in Palestinian airports and seaports.
#4. This funding will be linked to a series of reforms that will put Palestinian municipalities on a path toward independently funding and sustainably providing public services.
Excellent that the plan promotes delinking the Palestinian municipalities from financial dependence on the PA.