Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas speaks during a news conference following the extraordinary meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) in Istanbul, Turkey.
(photo credit: REUTERS/OSMAN ORSAL)
Palestinian officials said over the weekend that they will not participate in this week’s US-sponsored conference in Poland on peace and security in the Middle East, dubbing it an American-Israeli “conspiracy aimed at eliminating the Palestinian cause.”
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction also accused Israel and the US of planning to exploit the event to impose US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-unveiled plan for peace in the Middle East.
On Friday, a senior US official was quoted as saying that the Palestinians have been invited to the conference, which will take place in Warsaw on Wednesday and Thursday. The conference will address a range of issues, including terrorism, extremism, missile development, maritime trade and security, and threats posed by proxy groups across the region, according to the US State Department.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner will attend the conference and discuss with participants plans for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, the official said.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last month that the meeting would also deal with Iran’s “destabilizing influence” in the region.
PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said in response
to the US invitation that the Warsaw conference “is an attempt at bypassing the Arab Peace Initiative and destroying the Palestinian national project.”
Erekat said the Palestinians will not attend the conference and have “not mandated anyone to talk on behalf of Palestine.”
Another PA official, Hussein al-Sheikh, also rejected the invitation, and said the PLO was the only party mandated to represent or talk on behalf of the Palestinians.
Fatah spokesman Osama Qawassmeh warned that any Palestinian or Arab who accepts Trump’s “deal of the century” would be accused of betraying Jerusalem and Islamic and Christian holy sites. He too emphasized that the PLO was the only party which has the authority to speak on behalf of the Palestinians.
The PA, which has been boycotting the Trump administration since December 2017, has expressed fear that the Warsaw conference’s main goal would be to promote normalization between Israel and some Arab countries.
In the past two weeks, several PA officials have called on the Arab countries to boycott the upcoming conference and to remain committed to the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative, which calls for normalizing ties between Israel and the Arab countries only after a full Israeli withdrawal to the pre-1967 lines.
Qawassmeh warned on Saturday that any Arab leader who meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Warsaw conference would be “stabbing Jerusalem and our Palestinian people.” The Palestinians, he added, are opposed to any form of normalization “with the Israeli occupation entity because that would be a free gift to Tel Aviv.”
The PA Ministry of Foreign Affairs accused the US of “declaring war on the just Palestinian cause” and international resolutions.
It claimed that the US was convening the conference in Warsaw as part of its effort to impose a new world order. The ministry warned all countries against participating in the conference, saying it was also part of an American-Israeli “conspiracy” to eliminate the Palestinian issue.
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