Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman greets Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before the start of the 29th Arab Summit in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia April 15, 2018.
(photo credit: HAMAD I MOHAMMED/REUTERS)
Some Arab states have begun exerting pressure on the Palestinians to agree to participate in next month’s workshop in Bahrain, where the US administration is planning to unveil the economic portion of its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East.
“Some Arab countries are unhappy that we immediately rejected the idea of the workshop,” a senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah told The Jerusalem Post. “They are now asking us to stop attacking the workshop and not to oppose the participation of Palestinian businessmen.”
The official did not name the Arab countries that were reportedly pressuring the PA leadership to soften its stance towards the upcoming workshop in Manama, Bahrain.
However, other officials in Ramallah told the Post that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have relayed a message to the PA leadership in which they expressed “concern” over Palestinian opposition to the workshop.
“The Arabs say we should have consulted with them before publicly rejecting the workshop and calling for its boycott,” another official said. “They are actually pressuring us to stop speaking out against the Bahrain conference and to allow businessmen to go there.”
Palestinian officials are scheduled to meet in Ramallah in the coming days to discuss the latest developments surrounding the US administration’s peace plan, also known as the “deal of the century.”
The PA and several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have voiced strong opposition to the US administration’s “deal of the century,” including the idea of holding a workshop in Bahrain next month to discuss economic prosperity in the Middle East.
The PA, which has not been invited to the conference, has called on Palestinian businessmen to boycott the workshop.
Palestinians claim that the US administration has “endorsed” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s vision for economic peace as a substitute for a political solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Despite the purported Arab pressure on the PA leadership to stop attacking the upcoming Bahrain conference, Palestinian officials and factions on Wednesday continued their condemnations of the US administration and the Bahrain workshop.
Several Palestinian businessmen who received invitations from the US to attend the planned workshop said that they would be boycotting the event. They include prominent businessmen Bashar Masri and Adnan Majli.
“Any Palestinian who participates in the [Bahrain] conference is a traitor, collaborator and coward,” said Osama Qawassmeh, spokesman for the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank. “We call on all our friends and the Arabs not to attend this conference.”
Fatah’s ‘youth’ movement, al-Shabiba, also joined the chorus of condemnations. In a statement, the group said that those who think that the Palestinians would compromise on their legitimate national rights in return for money are living under an illusion. It also accused the administration of President Donald Trump of working to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause and rights.
On Wednesday, several Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip continued their attacks against the US administration and the upcoming Bahrain economic conference.
During a press conference in Gaza City, representatives of the factions warned that the Bahrain gathering was part of the “deal of the century,” which, they claimed, is aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause.
“The Palestinian cause is a purely political issue and our national rights are non-negotiable and are not for sale,” they stressed. They also urged Arabs to refrain from normalizing their ties with the “Zionist entity.”
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