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Palestinian Economic Plan Would Attract $4 Billion

Secretary of State Kerry & Palestinian President Abbas
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan, on May 26, 2013. Photographer: Khalil Mazraawi/AFP via Getty Images

An economic stimulus plan being developed for the Palestinians would bring $4 billion in investment, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said.

The plan, led by former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, would generate money for projects involving tourism, energy, agriculture and construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Kerry said during a meeting of the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

Blair’s group, which includes corporate executives, estimates that Palestinian gross domestic product could be increased by 50 percent over three years. In their “most optimistic estimates,” the plan would create enough new jobs to cut unemployment to 8 percent from 21 percent, Kerry said.

“When you’re talking about $4 billion or more and this kind of economic effort, you’re talking about something that is absolutely achievable,” Kerry said, speaking after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian business leader Munib al-Masri.

Masri and Israeli entrepreneur Yossi Vardi presented a separate plan called “Breaking the Impasse” in which both Palestinian and Israeli business executives and civil society leaders are meeting in an effort to support negotiating a peace agreement.

Speaking before Kerry, Abbas said Palestinians won’t accept a phased solution to the conflict with Israel and that any agreement must address the issues of refugees and political prisoners.

Temporary solutions “won’t end the conflict” and will make it “more complicated,” Abbas said.

Kerry, Blair and U.S. investor Tim Collins were scheduled to meet later with the foreign ministers of Jordan and the United Arab Emirates.

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