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Kerry pushes $4 billion West Bank development plan

By CNN Staff
updated 8:27 PM EDT, Mon May 27, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The initiative could increase Palestinian GDP by as much as 50%, Kerry says
  • He announces the plan during a meeting of the World Economic Forum in Jordan
  • Netanyahu, Abbas support the plan, but specific details are scant

(CNN) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry outlined Sunday a $4 billion economic development plan for the West Bank that he hopes will help encourage peace in the region.

Details were scant on the proposal, which he announced in Jordan during a meeting of the World Economic Forum.

"The fact is that we are looking to mobilize some $4 billion of investment," Kerry said.

A team is looking at opportunities in tourism, construction, energy and agriculture, among other industries, and will make recommendations to the Palestinians, he added.

Experts believe the plan could increase the Palestinian GDP by as much s 50% over three years and cut unemployment to 8% from 21%, Kerry said.

The initiative is supported by both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

"Now, is this fantasy? I don't think so, because there are already great examples of investment and entrepreneurship that are working in the West Bank," Kerry told the crowd, which included Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres.

"So we know it can be done, but we've never experienced the kind of concentrated effort that this group is talking about bringing to the table."

He did not mention the names of any companies involved in the proposal, nor was it clear when and exactly on what the money would be spent.

Kerry has made the Israeli-Palestinian issue the centerpiece of his tenure as America's top diplomat.

He has spent more time on this issue than any other, is in almost daily contact with Netanyahu and speaks with Abbas several times a week.

"Negotiations can't succeed if you don't negotiate," he said Sunday.

"We are reaching a critical point where tough decisions have to be made. And I just ask all of you to keep your eyes focused on what can really be done here. Think of all that can change."

CNN's Dana Ford and Elise Labott contributed to this report.

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