Palestinians not consulted on USA investment conference, says prime minister

Saul Bowman
May 20, 2019

Palestinian officials will not attend a US-led conference in Bahrain next month created to draw investment to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Reuters reports. This workshop is a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.

"We reject any economic and political steps that aim to implement the deal of the century or to normalize ties with the Israeli enemy", Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters.

He added: "The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives".

Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner is the chief architect of the proposals.

The Trump administration has said its still-secret peace plan would require compromise by both sides.

Palestinian officials will not attend the conference, Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani said. The Palestinians, who have boycotted the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in late 2017, have shown little interest in discussing the plan.

"We're looking not to make this about no discussion of the political" aspect of the plan at this time, the senior administration official said.

Senior PA ministers said there would be no one from the body attending the meetings, citing USA efforts to normalise Israeli actions in occupied territories.

The senior US official said the conference would show the people of Gaza, which is controlled by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, that "there are donor countries around the world willing to come in and make investments".

The Bahrain conference could see large-scale investment pledges for the Palestinian territories. However, some pro-Palestine advocates have argued that a two-state solution has long become impossible, arguing that a one-state solution with equal right for its Palestinian and Israeli citizens is the only way forward.

The Palestinians are giving a cool reception to an American plan to hold a conference next month to unveil the first phase of its Mideast peace plan.

A USA official told reporters that invitations to the workshop were being sent to people in the United States, Europe, the Gulf, the wider Arab world and "some" Palestinian business leaders. Trump has also closed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington and cut off funding for the United Nations agency that helps Palestinian refugees in the West Bank and Gaza.

It will not address critical political disputes that have stalled previous attempts, including the final borders of a future Palestinian state, a decision over who controls Jerusalem and what happens to millions of Palestinian refugees.

The Trump administration has sought to enlist support from Arab governments. A senior administration official told reporters that invitations to the workshop are being sent to individuals in the United States, Europe, the Gulf, the wider Arab world and "some" Palestinian business leaders.

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