How does Trump's economic plan for Palestine stack up against other major financial initiatives?

The US sketch for prosperity outlines $50 billion over ten years, a figure dwarfed by other mega-projects

The overall amount of investment for Palestine, Jordan, Egypt and Lebanon outlined in the Peace to Prosperity Plan released by the White House on Saturday night is $50.67 billion over a 10-year horizon. It had been billed for some time as ‘the deal of the century’ that would enable a political solution to the conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Even before any details became public, the concept has been undermined by actions taken by the US that have built up immense distrust over their attempt to play the role of honest broker.

Now that the plan has been revealed it is fair to say that the response has been underwhelming.

Part of this can be attributed to what is a relatively small monetary commitment to making peace a reality. $50bn – or $5.6bn annually – is not the kind of figure to blow any entrenched minds to make the kind of concessions that peace will require. There are plenty of mega projects already in the works that dwarf this valuation.

nw2306 investments
nw2306 investments

In PR terms, the plan has not made any waves. Why is this? Let’s break down what $50bn is in relative terms.

At first glance, this headline number does not stack up even if we put to one side the realities of implementing such large-scale projects let alone one such as this which is burdened by decades of pain and suffering.

China’s Belt and Road Initiative is arguably the most ambitious ever. Morgan Stanley estimates total investment could reach up to $1.3 trillion by 2027, spread across as many as 65 countries accounting for almost half of the world’s population. As far as out-of-this-world ambitions go, the International Space Station will eventually have cost Earth some $1 trillion. By 2010, $150bn had already been spent on it, according to visualcapitalist.com.

On the ground, London’s Crossrail project is forecast to have cost $23bn once it is completed next year and California’s 15-year high-speed rail system will require $70bn.

The Marshall Plan gave more than $12 billion to Western Europe after the Second World War. The Vietnam War – which the US knew early on it could not win – eventually became a $168bn endeavour including some $30bn in financial support to south Vietnam.

If we break it down further, Belt and Road translates to about $330 per person within the territories it covers. The Peace plan translates to $432 per head in Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt and Jordan. A healthy 30 per cent more per person. If just the Gaza and West Bank portion of the plan – $27.8bn – is taken into account then it comes to $5,791 for each person living there.

However, the question remains, what will each Palestinian have to concede for this sum? Only then will we be able to gauge what kind of deal this really is.

Updated: June 23, 2019 02:44 PM

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