Palestinians parade during celebrations after Hamas said it reached a deal with Palestinian rival Fatah, in Gaza City, October 12, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS/SUHAIB SALEM)
Palestinian officials on Saturday dismissed the US administration’s plan to spend billions of dollars in the Palestinian economy over 10 years and said they remain opposed to the “Peace to Prosperity” conference scheduled to take place this week in Manama, Bahrain.
The officials’ response came shortly after the White House published the economic portion of its long-awaited plan for peace in the Middle East.
The $50-billion economic plan calls for creation of a global fund to lift the Palestinian and neighboring Arab state economies. More than half of the $50b. would be spent in the Palestinian territories over 10 years.
Munir al-Jaghoub, a senior official with the Palestinian ruling Fatah faction, said in response that the US administration was proposing a solution based on Arab money to “kill the political ambitions of the Palestinian people.”
He said that it would be better if the Arabs “did not allow the US to blackmail them in this humiliating manner.”
Two senior Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah also immediately rejected the economic plan, which is expected to be presented at the upcoming conference in Bahrain.
They said that the US administration was making a big mistake by assuming that the Palestinians would make any concessions on their rights in return for financial aid.
Several Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, also issued statements rejecting the economic plan. “Palestine is not for sale,” the factions said. “We don’t accept bribes from the Americans or anyone else.”
Earlier, PA President Mahmoud Abbas said that US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East will not pass because it “ends” the Palestinian cause.
Abbas, who was speaking during a meeting of Fatah leaders in Ramallah before the publication of the economic plan, said the Palestinians will not attend the US-led economic conference in Bahrain, which is expected to begin on Tuesday, “because there can be no economic solution before there’s a political solution.”
Abbas’s remarks came as several Palestinian factions called for mass demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to protest the Bahrain conference. The demonstrations will begin on Monday and continue until the end of the conference two days later.
The protests will be held under the banner “The Manama Workshop is Treason.”
Arab finance ministers, meanwhile, are scheduled to hold an emergency meeting in Cairo on Sunday to discuss the financial crisis the PA has been facing in recent months. The meeting is being held at the request of the Arab League to discuss the PA’s request for a “financial security net” from the Arab world after Israel deducted large sums from the tax revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians because of payments to families of security prisoners and “martyrs.”
PA officials have expressed disappointment over the failure of the Arab states to fulfill previous promises to financially support the Palestinians.
Abbas’s Fatah faction on Saturday called on Arabs to stage demonstrations in front of the Bahrain embassy in their country to protest the economic workshop.
“We appeal to the masses of our Arab nation to go to the embassies of Bahrain in all capitals to condemn this disgraceful position,” Fatah said in a statement. “We call for the cancellation of the workshop. Our people will continue their struggle, reject humiliation and defend their freedom and dignity. Let everyone rise to denounce this Zionist-American terrorism, which is backed by traitors from our nation.”
The PA president also repeated the Palestinians’ refusal to receive tax funds as long as Israel continues to deduct payments made by the PA to families of security prisoners and “martyrs.” Israel, he said, must pay the full amount of money, “and if there is any issue that needs to be discussed, we are ready for such discussions afterwards.”
The Palestinians, Abbas added, don’t accept the deduction of any payments “on the pretext that we pay the families of martyrs and prisoners. We are prepared for dialogue with Israel – if they wish – not only about this issue, but all other topics, including economic and financial issues.”
The PLO Executive Committee is scheduled to hold a meeting in Ramallah on Sunday to discuss issues related to the Bahrain conference and the rest of the yet-to-be-announced US peace plan, a PLO official told The Jerusalem Post.
He said that the PLO leaders will discuss ways of foiling Trump’s unseen plan and the Palestinian response to Israeli and US policies towards the Palestinians.
The official said that the PLO committee will also study the possibility of implementing previous recommendations by PLO and Fatah institutions to “revise” relations with Israel. “We believe it’s time for us to revise our ties with Israel in light of Israeli and American policies and decisions that contradict international laws,” he added.
Some Palestinian officials have urged the PA leadership to revoke Palestinian recognition of Israel and halt security coordination between the Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank.
Saleh Ra’fat, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said that Sunday’s meeting will discuss plans to hold mass protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the Bahrain conference and the peace deal.
He said that all Palestinians were united in rejecting the Bahrain conference and urged Arab countries to boycott the gathering. “The US plan can’t achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians because it completely ignores the resolutions of international legitimacy,” he added.
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