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Mnuchin defends Kushner's $50 billion plan for the Middle East

Key Points
  • Steven Mnuchin said that Jared Kushner's "Peace to Prosperity" plan for Palestine is workable.
  • The U.S. Treasury Secretary told CNBC that President Trump's son-in-law had conducted a successful event in Bahrain.
Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Treasury secretary.
Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin defended accusations that a U.S.-drafted economic solution to bring about Israeli-Palestinian peace has little chance of success.

President Donald Trump's son-in-law and White House senior advisor, Jared Kushner, chaired a "peace to prosperity" workshop in Bahrain this week, based on a plan to spend as much as $50 billion on investments in the Palestinian territories as well as neighboring areas such as Jordan and Lebanon.

Ahead of the event, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, claimed that "nobody will live along enough to see this $50 billion," adding: "We are used to this nonsense, let us not listen to endless lies."

Representatives from private investors, the World Bank and Intentional Monetary Fund have gathered in Bahrain but no officials from either the Palestinian or Israeli government are attending the summit.

"My view from that last 18 hours here is really this has gone quite successful," Mnuchin told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in Manama, Bahrain, Wednesday.

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"What everybody is echoing at the table here is that really this is a very manageable plan ... This will lead to tremendous economic opportunities for the people of the Palestine region," he added.

One attendee, U.S. businessman Steve Schwarzman, said this week that Palestine could be compared to Dubai and Singapore before the investment dollars poured in. He added that his own investment of $5 billion in the region would represent just one or two deals for his firm.

Mnuchin said that attitude highlighted how quickly investment into Palestine and the wider region could occur.

When questioned if a lack of security as well as an absence of Palestinian trust in Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu would scupper any development in the region, Mnuchin said the issue needed to extend beyond local conflict.

"This isn't about Israel and Palestine, this is really about an international solution and economic support."

Mnuchin said this was a very real plan for economic opportunity and President Donald Trump would "absolutely" take the lead on the project.