Palestinians to shun U.S.-led economic conference, say they weren't consulted

Clay Curtis
May 20, 2019

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

Government, civil society and business leaders at the conference are expected to discuss potential economic investments in the region if a peace agreement is achieved. They want a two-state solution with East Jerusalem as their capital and the right for refugees and descendants to return to their land prior to the creation of Israel in 1948.

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".

"This will give hopefully the people in the region the potential to see what the economic opportunities could be if we can work out political issues that have held back the region for a long, long time", a senior Trump administration official told Haaretz.

After the cabinet met, Ahhmed Majdalani, the social development minister and a member of the executive committee of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, said: "There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop".

The plan is also expected to include proposals for resolving thorny political issues at the heart of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Reuters said news agency said - as Israel has said it might declare sovereignty over its settlements in the occupied West Bank, in violation of global law.

"Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political ... and based on ending the occupation", PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday at a Palestinian cabinet meeting.

United States officials said the conference would include representatives and business executives from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, as well as some finance ministers.

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USA officials had said earlier the peace plan would be rolled out after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, which ends in early June.

Administration officials described the plan as "very extensive and detailed", telling reporters that the economic and political portions of the plan will be presented in different forums because it is easier to digest in two different settings.

"All efforts to make the oppressor and the oppressed coexist are doomed to fail", Saeb Erekat, a senior Palestinian diplomat and negotiator, said.

The Trump administration has sought to enlist support from Arab governments. "I feel bad for the Palestinian people".

Saudi Arabia has assured Arab allies it would not endorse any United States plan that fails to meet key Palestinian concerns.

Washington has yet to commit to an exact timetable on political aspects of the plan. The goal, USA officials say, is to reform the Palestinian economy so that it can support itself as a functioning state.

"Palestinians will not accept any proposals which do not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital", he said. Ramallah refuses to engage with the White House after it recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocated the embassy from Tel Aviv - ending decades of U.S. policy that the final status of the city would be agreed through peace talks.

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