VOA 365 Interview - June 26, 2019
Anchor Payam Yazdian: Both Palestinian and Israeli officials were absent in this conference; the Palestinian officials boycotted this conference. In my interview with Matthew Brodsky, Senior Fellow at the Security Studies Group, I asked him: Why wasn't Israel invited to this conference?
Brodsky: The reason for the conference is to keep it economic, so the invitations that went out generally were to Finance Ministers, not to Foreign Ministers. They didn't want this to turn into a grandstanding event for people throwing down political platitudes. Now the Palestinian Authority basically engaged in an act of self-sabotage by not only not going to the conference and boycotting it, but they embarked on an active campaign to try to bar others from attending, around the region. Of course, that didn't work, and so they also threatened their own Palestinian private business individuals with repercussions if they attended. Now, in fact, there are over a dozen Palestinian businessmen who did attend. In fact, the Palestinian delegation that attended was larger than we had anticipated. Israel wasn't invited at a higher level because the Palestinian Authority didn't go, so they didn't want to turn this into some huge political statement when the focus is really on economics in the context of a peace agreement.
Payam: Jared Kushner said economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without enduring and fair solution to the conflict - one that guarantees Israel's security and respects the dignity of Palestinian people. It seems that this entire plan is contingent on political solution to the seventy year conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. Voice of America asked Matthew Brodsky: How does this problem weaken the incentive for investment?
Brodsky: That's what Jared was saying in one of his speeches that when he went to people for investments, and try to get advice, he would frequently hear from them, 'why would I want to invest in the Middle East? It's the one place I don't invest in.' Now it's because of conflicts that that's the reason and that's something that should be turned around. As he outlined, his $50 Billion plan is really quite do-able if you look at the math. It's just linking the economic portion to the political portion, as you say, to create peace to prosperity, which happens to be the name of the conference. So the two have to be working together and of course, it's hard to have a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict without having an economic solution for the lives of every day Palestinians.