Saudi Arabia’s Marshall Plan for Palestine?

Commentary

The Saudi-backed Ersal project aims to turn Palestine into the next Dubai, and may just succeed.

The West Bank’s sister cities of Ramallah and El-Bireh may turn into a regional financial hub, thanks in part to $400 million in financing for the project by Saudi Arabia.

Jonathan Ferziger (Bloomberg) writes:

“Abbas and Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad are trying to stimulate international investment with a series of construction projects that include commercial and residential buildings across the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority has been conducting U.S.-mediated indirect talks with Israel aimed at reaching a Middle East peace agreement.”

Saudi Arabia is a well-known political backer of the Palestinians. But lesser known is Saudi Arabia’s overall strategy for the benefit of the people of Palestine – it’s the same one that has benefitted the Kingdom domestically: a focus on the power of economic growth and soft power.

While Israel continues to have the upper hand militarily in the Middle East, it has also helped to stifle Palestinian economic growth through blockades and sanctions on trade with the oppressed region. This fact came to international attention recently when an aid flotilla destined for the Gaza was attacked by Israeli soldiers.

Saudi Arabia’s strategy has always somewhat resembled a Marshall plan for the area – a focus as an economic and political patron for the ravaged region. Saudi Arabia correctly realizes that the best, or rather most likely way for Palestine to receive statehood is through economic growth and financial independence that the world cannot ignore.