JERUSALEM, Israel -- Israeli President Shimon Peres joined delegates in Jordan over the weekend at the World Economic Forum, where U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry presented economic incentives for the Palestinian Authority.
Kerry wrapped up the forum Sunday afternoon by presenting a $4 billion stimulus plan to the Palestinian Authority.
The secretary of state said the plan could potentially allow the P.A. to double its gross national product in three years, bring a 40 percent hike in wages and reduce unemployment by two-thirds.
Such prosperity, he said, could even spill over to Israel and Jordan.
The funds would be raised from the private sector, with European Union Middle East envoy Tony Blair already working on opportunities in the tourism, construction, energy, agriculture and high-tech sectors.
But despite Kerry's enthusiasm, neither the P.A.'s Fatah leadership nor its counterparts in Hamas were buying it.
Officials from both parties said the prospect of economic growth would not alter their demands, which Peres referred to euphemistically as "some gaps."
"President Abbas, you are our partner and we are yours," Peres said. "What holds back the renewal of the peace negotiations are some gaps in the bridge between the beginning and the conclusion."
For the Palestinian Authority, these "gaps" are prerequisites that must be met before resuming peace talks with Israel. They include the following:
- Israel’s acceptance of the 1948 armistice lines, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call “indefensible” and which would uproot 350,000 Israelis from their homes and communities.
- Re-dividing Jerusalem as it was during the Jordanian occupation when Judaism’s holiest site, the Western Wall, was off limits to Jews.
- Israeli acceptance of so-called Palestinian refugees, who they claim number close to 5 million, effectively eliminating the Jewish state.
Release of all Palestinian prisoners, most serving time for terror-related crimes.
While the United States and Israel believe financial independence and economic prosperity are keys to a sustainable peace, the Palestinian leadership says there will be no resumption of the peace process until Israel meets its demands.