Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and US President Donald Trump.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas released its first response to the upcoming Bahrain workshop scheduled for June, which is seen as a prelude to US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan
"This is the beginning of the 'Deal of the Century,'" the terrorist group proclaimed, according to Maariv
, the Hebrew-language sister publication of The Jerusalem Post
"We demand from Bahrain and its noble people not to allow the Israeli occupation, the murderers of the Palestinians, to desecrate their land," they stated.
Hamas has ruled the Gaza strip since 2006 and has been engaged in armed conflicts with Israel ever since. They voiced their opposition to "any economic, political or other step that could be a prelude to the 'Deal of the Century,'" according to a translation by Maariv reporter Yasser Okbi.
The "Deal of the Century" is what many are calling Trump's peace plan, which has yet to be unveiled. The Trump administration announced Sunday they will reveal the financial part of their plan at the Bahrain conference. So far, scant details have been revealed about the political part of proposal that could affect the future of the West Bank and Gaza.
Although Hamas is at odds with the leadership of the Palestinian Authority, which has jurisdiction over most of the West Bank's Palestinian population centers, they both called to boycott the workshop
. The rejection has frustrated US Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt
who has been a major player in the plan.
He told the Post
on Monday, "It’s difficult to understand why the Palestinian Authority would reject a workshop designed to discuss a vision with the potential to radically transform lives and put people on a path toward a brighter future."
While still just speculation at this point, the prospect of Israel applying sovereignty to part or all of the West Bank may be a turn-off for both the PA and Hamas. The land located on the western bank of the the Jordan river was part of the Kingdom of Jordan from 1948 to 1967 and free of Jews during that period. Today, almost half a million Israelis live in what are called Jewish settlements, which the PA says blocks their plans to create a state of their own.
Since the Oslo Accord of the mid 1990s, the Palestinian population has been ruled by the PA. The two-state solution, touted as the only path to peace by previous administrations would see a Palestinian state created in the region. But years of terrorism and the repeated election of the Likud party indicate the Israeli public is reluctant to engage in more territorial compromise.
The 2005 Disengagement from Gaza resulted in the removal of Israeli civilian communities and many right-wingers blame the move for the rise of Hamas and spate of rocket fire, the most recent round of which killed four people
But the Trump White House sees economic incentives as a way to smooth over decades of conflict.
One Palestinian who will show up in Bahrain despite the PA's boycott is Hebron businessman Ashraf Jabari, who says that although he prefers a Palestinian state, he doesn't see it as realistic. Jabari told the Post
he's hedging his bets with the Jewish settlers that so many of his fellow Palestinians would wish to see somehow disappear.
"This is a good step," Jabari said of the US sponsored workshop. "I will be going there as a representative of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce together with other representatives of the chamber."
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