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Kerry: Palestinian economic plan looks to inject $4 billion

May 26, 2013 10:17 P.M. (Updated: May 27, 2013 5:41 P.M.)
AL SHUNAH, Jordan (AFP) -- US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday an economic plan to revive the ailing Palestinian economy is expected to produce around $4 billion dollars in investment.

"We are looking to mobilize some $4 billion of investment" in tourism construction, Kerry told the closing session of the World Economic Forum, held in the Jordanian town of Al Shunah on the shores of the Dead Sea.

Kerry said business experts had been working to make the project "real, tangible and shovel-ready".

He added the preliminary results of their analysis were "stunning" and showed the plan would "dramatically" bring life to the economy.

"These experts believe we will increase the Palestinian GDP by as much as 50 percent over three years.

"The most optimistic estimates foresee enough new jobs to cut unemployment by two-thirds to eight percent down from 21 percent and to increase the median wage by 40 percent," said the top US diplomat.

Since taking up the baton this year in the long-elusive search for Middle East peace, Kerry has refused to divulge publicly the details of how he intends to bridge the bitter differences between Israel and the Palestinians.

But he has entrusted Quartet Middle East peace envoy Tony Blair with the task of drawing up an economic plan to attract tourism and private sector investment into the West Bank and breathe fresh hope into the area.

Blair has already been working with Coca-Cola chief executive Muhtar Kent on ways of attracting investment into the depressed West Bank.

Blair "is shaping what I believe could be a ground-breaking plan... that will transform the fortunes of a future Palestinian state," said Kerry.

"It is a plan for the Palestinian economy that is bigger, bolder and more ambitious than anything proposed since Oslo," he added in reference to the 1993 peace accords.

The West Bank had seen moderate growth in recent years only to be set back by Israeli and Western moves to stall aid following the Palestinian bid for upgraded UN status.

Kerry said home construction can produce more than 100,000 jobs over the next three years, urging the private and public sectors to cooperate.

"The public and private sectors alike have a responsibility to meet the demands of this moment and one can't do it without the other. We need you at the table," he said.

"We need a new model for how we are going to bring order and open up the possibilities. We need to partner with the private sector because it's clear most governments don't have the money."
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