A Palestinian steps on a poster depicting U.S. President Donald Trump during a tent city protest along the Israel border with Gaza, demanding the right to return to their homeland, in the southern Gaza Strip March 30, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Palestinians stepped up their criticism yesterday of the US-led summit on peace and security in the Middle East that is taking place in Warsaw on Wednesday and Thursday and said that the main purpose of the conference was to “eliminate” the Palestinian cause and their rights.
Palestinian officials belonging to various political factions warned that the US and Israel were planning to use the conference to impose US President Donald Trump’s soon-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East, which is also being referred to as the “deal of the century.”
Palestinian attempts in the past few weeks to persuade several Arab countries to boycott the conference were unsuccessful, some officials in Ramallah admitted.
The officials said that they also see the conference in the context of US and Israeli efforts to divert attention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by placing Iran on top of the world’s list of priorities.
The Warsaw conference is part of the “deal of the century,” which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause, end the Israeli-Arab conflict, replacing it with the conflict with Iran,” said Jamal Muheissen, a senior official with the ruling Fatah faction in the West Bank. The US administration and Israel, he charged “are trying to subjugate the Palestinians and exert political and financial pressure on the Palestinian leadership to force it to accept Trump’s plan to eliminate the Palestinian cause.”
Ahmed Majdalani, member of the PLO Executive Committee, claimed that the Warsaw gathering was part of an American “scheme” to bring about early normalization between Israel and the Arab states. He, too, said that the main objective of the conference was to shift attention from the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the Iranian issue in order to “eliminate” the Palestinian cause.
“The conference was stillborn,” Majdalani told the Palestinian Authority’s Voice of Palestine radio station. “It is aimed at creating a new regional alliance to confront Iran and promote normalization between Israel and the Arab world.”
A senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas described the Warsaw summit as an “extremely dangerous event.” The Trump administration and Israel, the official said, “are working hard to sell the deal of the century to the Arabs with the purpose of liquidating the Palestinian cause and turning Iran into the world’s number one problem.”
According to the official, the continued Fatah-Hamas power struggle and the split between the West Bank and Gaza Strip “is the main reason why the Israelis and Americans feel that the Palestinians are weak.”
The official expressed disappointment that the Arab states did not heed the Palestinian call to boycott the summit. “The Warsaw conference is a huge American conspiracy against our people and their cause,” he added. “We won’t be able to confront this conspiracy as long as we are divided and the Arab countries are moving away from the Palestinians.”
Azzam al-Ahmad, member of the Fatah Central Committee, said that the PA declined an invitation to participate in the Warsaw conference “because we don’t want to be used in the campaign against Iran.” The main propose of the conference, he claimed, was to rally support for Trump and his “idiotic policies.”
Palestinian officials also expressed fear that the Arab countries participating in the Warsaw summit would abandon the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative and endorse Trump’s “deal of the century.” The Arab peace plan calls for normalizing relations between the Arabs and Israel after a full Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 lines, including east Jerusalem, and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state. The officials said that the Trump administration was now working to change the order so that the normalization would precede a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“Despite US efforts to promote normalization of diplomatic relations between Arab states and Israel, no changes in the Arab Peace Initiative will be accepted,” said PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat. “Full normalization of ties with Israel will take place only after a final status agreement is achieved and Israel ends its control of all Arab territories occupied since 1967, including in the Golan Heights and east Jerusalem.”
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said that the conference was “yet another conspiracy against the Palestinian people with the aim of destroying their rights and paving the way for the Trump administration to pass its deal of the century.” The rights of the Palestinians, the PFLP cautioned, “are not for sale. The Palestinians will thwart this new conspiracy against our people by this US administration, which is know for its strong hostility towards the Palestinians.”