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Palestinians Will Not Attend Economic Summit in Bahrain

Palestinians Will Not Attend Economic Summit in Bahrain

Monday, 20 May, 2019 - 18:00
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh. (AP)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Palestinians will not attend the US-led conference in Bahrain next month that the Trump administration has cast as an overture to its own plan for peace between them and Israel.

Washington announced the conference on Sunday, describing it as an opportunity to drum up international investment for the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said on Monday that his government had not been consulted on the June 25-26 gathering in Manama.

After the cabinet met, Ahhmed Majdalani, the social development minister and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization executive committee, said: "There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop."

"Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel," he said.

The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017, have shown little interest in discussing a plan on which they had no input and that they anticipate will fall far short of their core demands.

Shtayyeh reiterated Palestinians' aspirations for a two-state peace agreement with Israel entailing control of the occupied West Bank and Gaza, as well as East Jerusalem as their future capital. Internationally-mediated talks to that end have been stalemated for years.

Israel calls Jerusalem its indivisible capital and has said it might declare sovereignty in its West Bank settlements, which are deemed illegal by the United Nations and most foreign governments.

"We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain," Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the PLO, said in a statement.

"We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf."

Bashar Masri, a Palestinian businessman and the founder of Rawabi, the first Palestinian planned city in the West Bank, said he had turned down an invitation to speak at the conference.

"We will not engage in any event outside the Palestinian national consensus," Masri wrote on social media. "The idea of an economic peace is an old one now being asked in a different way, and just as our people have rejected it in the past, we reject it now."

US officials have predicted the Manama event will include representatives and business executives from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as some finance ministers.

The economic component discussed will constitute an announcement on the first part of the Trump peace plan, US officials have said.

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