Thousands of Palestinians demonstrated on Monday in protest of the US-led economic conference scheduled to begin in Bahrain on Tuesday.The protests, organized by the ruling Fatah faction, are expected to last for three days. Palestinians gathered in the center of Ramallah chanting slogans against Israel and the US. They carried placards saying “No to the occupation,” “No to the Deal of the Century,” “No to the Bahrain workshop,” “The Bahrain workshop is a conspiracy to steal the rights of our people,” and “Jerusalem is not for sale.”The “Deal of the Century” refers to US President Donald Trump’s plan for peace in the Middle East. Protesters claim participation in the conference is a form of “collusion” with Israel. Some carried black coffins marked with the words “Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation resolutions” – implying that the Bahrain conference contradicts decisions by the two bodies in support of the Palestinians.Jamal Muheissen, a senior Fatah official, spoke at the rally saying that Palestinians must be united in their effort to thwart the “deal of shame.”He claimed that the Bahraini people were opposed to the economic conference and were planning to protest against it. “The US administration is humiliating the Arab leaders,” Muheissen said. “The time has come for the Arabs to rise in order to restore their dignity.This deal will not pass and we will remain loyal to all the martyrs of the Arab nation.”PLO official Wasel Abu Yusef said the Palestinians were hoping that all the Arabs would boycott the Bahrain conference and that the rulers of Bahrain would refuse to host it in their country. “The Palestinian people don’t want money and an economy under occupation,” he said. “We want an end to the occupation.”PA governor of Ramallah Leila Ghannam said the Palestinian protests were aimed at sending a message to the world that the “Deal of the Century” won’t pass. “Palestine and Jerusalem are not for sale,” she said. “We won’t sell our rights in return for billions of dollars.”In Jenin, Palestinian protesters took to the streets carrying placards that read: “The refugees and Jerusalem are not for sale” and “Palestine is ours and can’t be bought or sold.” They also carried placards condemning the Arab states that agreed to attend the Bahrain conference, specifically singling out the king of Bahrain.Similar protests took place in Hebron and other Palestinian cities in the West Bank.In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians also protested against the Bahrain conference by burning photos of Trump and US and Israeli flags. Hamas and other Palestinian factions have called for a general strike in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, urging Palestinians to demonstrate in front of the United Nations headquarters in Gaza City.Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif Qanou said the Bahrain conference was designed to transform the Palestinian cause into a financial and economic issue. “This conference will fail,” he said.Another Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuhri, said that the conference won’t succeed in achieving its goals. “The future will show that Trump and his team are politically adolescent,” he added.In a related development, Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip demonstrated against the Bahrain conference and the participation of Israeli journalists in the event. The protest was held outside the offices of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Gaza City.The journalists carried placards condemning the conference and the invitation to Israeli journalists to enter Bahrain and said they were opposed to “media normalization” between the Arabs and Israel.
Meanwhile, the Arab-Israeli political party, UAL-Balad, will also hold a demonstration in Tel Aviv in front of the American Embassy building.
“This ‘economic summit’, planned by Trump, Netanyahu and the Gulf leaders is aimed at legitimizing the annexation aspirations of Israel’s extreme right government," UAL-Balad wrote in a statement. "While the Americans are trying to buy the Palestinians with Saudi Petrodollars, the state of Israel is de facto realizing the deal of the century – by deepening Israeli occupation in the West Bank and legitimizing the annexation plans.
“Today, we will protest the attempts to abolish the Palestinian right to independence camouflaged under cover of ‘economic development’. We will protest against the initiative to perpetuate Israeli settlements and against the US administration’s war mongering policy in the region."\Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.