U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry promoted a plan to grow the Palestinian economy and revive a decade-old Arab League peace plan as his vision to restart the stalled peace process during his three-day visit to the region this week.
“Economic growth will create greater confidence in the [peace] process going forward,” Kerry said in Tel Aviv, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The plan would include both U.S. government funds and private-sector investment to encourage the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), which administers portions of the West Bank under the Oslo Peace agreements, has been struggling to pay the salaries of its workers and security forces as foreign aid from the Arab world and the West has dried up over the past few years due to the global financial crisis.
In a joint meeting with Kerry, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was receptive to the “economic components” in reengaging with the Palestinians, but that security remained “foremost in our minds,” the Wall Street Journal reported.
“I am determined not only to resume the peace process with the Palestinians, but to make a serious effort to end this conflict once and for all,” Netanyahu said, the Times of Israel reported.
Meanwhile, Kerry also said during his visit that a revival of the decade-old Arab Peace Initiative, a 2002 plan in which the Arab world promised full relations with Israel in return for Israeli pullout of all territories captured in the 1967 Six Day War.
“Any statement, any document, where you have a proposal for peace, and where you have dozens of Arab, Muslim countries, willing to make peace, needs to be taken in its value, and respected,” Kerry said.
At the time, Israel expressed skepticism of the plan as it was also overshadowed by the terrorism and violence associated with the Second Intifada. Israel has also rejected calls to pull back to the pre-1967 lines, which it considers indefensible.