The Palestinian people need an improved economy, but “before anything, there must be a political solution,” Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday, warning that the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain would fail.
In a briefing with foreign press, Abbas said that for the United States to turn the whole process from a political issue to an economic one, “we will not accept this, and we will not attend Manama – and we do not encourage anyone to go. We are confident that the conference will not be successful.”
He said that he does not feel obligated to accept anything proposed by America.
“We will not accept America to be the sole peaceful mediator for the Middle East cause... We don’t trust the Americans alone,” Abbas continued. “We want Europe, Russia, the UN, [and] China, and we need Britain and Germany, as well. We will not be slaves or servants to [US special envoys] Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt or [US Ambassador to Israel] David Friedman. They are the ones making the judgment, and we will not accept this or let them say whatever they want.”
Abbas said that the PA is open to receiving help from Bahrain or any other place, but it is against what is taking place in Manama and the “Deal of the Century.”
Reacting to leaks of the plan that will be presented in Bahrain, Abbas pushed back at Greenblatt and Kushner’s allegations that the PA is corrupt. He said that he would challenge anyone to tell him that a “person in the PA is corrupt and we have not taken him to judiciary.”
Abbas also said that he is not afraid of the result of other Arab states attending the US-led Bahrain economic conference.
“There will not be normalization between the Arab states and Israel,” he said, noting that each Arab country has its own reason for attending the conference.
“There will not be normalization of relations with Israel before there is a solution between Israel and the Palestinians.”
Earlier in the day, Palestinian officials likewise stepped up their attacks on the economic portion of the US administration’s Middle East peace plan, calling it “Balfour Declaration No. 2” – referring to the 1917 public statement by the British government announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine.
Meanwhile, Palestinian factions called for launching three days of protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the Bahrain conference, which is expected to be launched in Manama on Tuesday. The factions and Palestinian officials in Ramallah expressed disappointment over Jordan’s and Egypt’s decisions to participate in the conference despite Palestinian calls to boycott it.
“Day after day, the reality of the American intentions and attitudes against the Palestinian people and their rights is exposed,” the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Referring to the unveiling of the economic plan by the White House on Saturday, the ministry said it was US President Donald Trump’s “ominous declaration, or Balfour Declaration No. 2.”
The PA ministry accused the US administration of denying the existence of the Palestinian people and dealing with them as a “group of people.”
It said that the US economic plan, called “Peace to Prosperity,” was an extension of the administration’s political bias in favor of Israel. “This plan does not mention the economy of the Palestinian state and its components, but is trying to whitewash the occupation and settlements,” the ministry added.
PLO official Tayseer Khaled on Sunday denounced Trump’s senior advisers as a “group of swindlers and fraudsters.”
The American “peace team – which consists of Kushner, Greenblatt and Friedman – is nothing but a group of swindlers and fraudsters,” Khaled said in a Facebook post.
He said that the $50 billion economic plan unveiled by the US administration is a “10-year fake investment,” claiming that the funds allocated to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon are “the price for liquidating the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees [UNRWA] and the rights of Palestinian refugees.”
Hussein al-Sheikh, senior Fatah official and head of the PA’s General Authority of Civil Affairs, also lashed out at the US economic plan.
“The mask has fallen, and attempts to liquidate the Palestinian cause in return for a handful of dollars have been made public,” he said, implicitly criticizing Arab states that agreed to attend the conference in Bahrain.
Mahmoud al-Aloul, deputy chairman of the ruling Fatah faction, said that the Bahrain conference will be “flimsy,” adding that the Arabs were participating under pressure from the US. “We have rejected the idea of economic peace dozens of times in the past,” he said. “The main issue for us is independence and sovereignty. The current US administration has nothing positive to offer the Palestinians.”
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