Palestinians to shun US-led economic conference

Wednesday, 22 May, 2019

"The financial crisis now plaguing the [Ramallah-based] Palestinian Authority is the result of an ongoing financial war aimed at blackmailing us politically", the prime minister said.

"We think that there's a very big manipulation by the United States", he said.

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara tweeted on Monday that an American Middle East economics workshop scheduled in Bahrain for June "will take place with or without the Palestinians".

The White House announced Sunday it would unveil the first phase of its long-awaited Middle East peace plan at the conference, saying it would focus on economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were resolved. The political aspects, regarding the creation of a Palestinian state, territorial claims and the status of Jerusalem, will follow as the next stage.

A spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, on Monday cast doubt over the Bahrain conference.

"By encouraging Palestinians to reject the workshop, the PA is shamefully attempting to block their route in direction of a greater future".

The plan will discuss four major components the senior administration official said: infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people, and governance reforms "to make the area as investible as possible".

"We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf".

The senior USA 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".

"I look forward to these important discussions about a vision that will offer Palestinians exciting new opportunities to realize their full potential", Mnuchin said.

U.S. President Donald Trump boards Air Force One for travel back to Washington, DC at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, New York, U.S., May 17, 2019.

Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Saeb Erekat Monday affirmed that no party has addressed the Palestinians about the USA economic plan, nor the workshop to be held in Bahrain next month.

The event on 25-26 June in Manama, the Bahraini capital, seeks to convene governments, civil society, and business leaders to "facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people".

Al Jazeera's Kimberley Halkett, reporting from Washington, DC, said there were serious concerns within the USA and elsewhere that the proposal would be "dead on arrival", however.

However, representatives for the Palestinian Authority are not expected to attend the workshop.

"You can't detach the economy from the political and historical approach", she said. Judging by Sunday's announcement, the Trump administration seems to ooze an unbreakable attachment to the security of Israel.

"Any economic plan without political horizons will lead nowhere..."

A U.S. 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.

"Economic issues should be addressed as an outcome of a political solution", Shtayyeh said at a weekly cabinet meeting in Ramallah.