Palestine urges Egypt, Jordan to reconsider going to US-led conference

Palestine urges Egypt, Jordan to reconsider going to US-led conference

2019/06/12 | 20:20 - Source: Baghdad Post

(ThisDay | Iraq News Now)- Palestinians urged Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday to

reconsider their attendance at a US-led conference on June 25-26 in Bahrain,

voicing concern it would weaken any Arab opposition to Washington’s coming

peace plan.The United States has billed the gathering as a workshop to

boost the Palestinian economy as part of a broader diplomatic effort widely

referred to as President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” to address the

Israeli-Palestinian conflict.Palestinian leaders, who are boycotting the meeting, say the

still unpublished plan falls short of their goal of statehood.

They primarily

blame a halt in US aid and Israeli restrictions for an economic crisis in the

occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.The participation of Egypt and Jordan at the Bahrain meeting

is considered particularly important because they have historically been key

players in Middle East peace efforts and are the only Arab states that have

peace treaties with Israel.Israeli and US officials say Israel has yet to be formally

invited, given discussions between Washington and Bahrain over what might be an

appropriate makeup of an Israeli delegation.“The Palestinian Authority urges Egypt and Jordan not to

attend the Bahrain conference,” Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian

government said on Facebook after US officials announced the two nations, along

with Morocco, would attend.Melhem urged “all brotherly and friendly countries to

withdraw,” adding that participation “would carry wrong messages about the

unity of the Arab position” on rejecting Trump’s plan.While the precise outlines of the draft plan have yet to be

revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed about it say it

has jettisoned the two-state solution.

The plan faces possible delays due to

political upheaval in Israel, where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must

fight another election after failing to form a government.US officials have said they are inviting economic and

finance ministers, as well as business leaders from the region and around the

world to Bahrain to discuss investment in the Palestinian territories.PALESTINIAN FRUSTRATIONAddressing an International Labor Organization conference in

Geneva on Wednesday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said Israeli

control of West Bank land had turned Palestinian farmers into “mere vassal

workers” and blocked development.Only a political agreement, he said, could resolve what he

termed a financial and an unemployment crisis, adding that Israel should also

end its blockade of the Gaza Strip to allow workers to move freely inside the

Palestinian labor market.”Israel cites security concerns for restrictions it imposes

in the West Bank, where it has expanded Jewish settlements – viewed by the

United Nations and many countries as illegal – and along the border with Gaza,

an enclave ruled by Hamas Islamists.Washington ceased its aid to the Palestinians early this

year, dealing President Mahmoud Abbas another blow after recognizing contested

Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in late 2017 and moving the US embassy to the

holy city from Tel Aviv.Tareq Baconi, an analyst with the International Crisis Group

who is based in Jerusalem, said both Egypt and Jordan had faced heavy US

pressure to go to Bahrain.“This is a significant disappointment for the Palestinians

because it is a breaking of the ranks in the Arab region.

Their call to boycott

has not been heeded,” Baconi told Reuters.After Israel, Egypt is the largest beneficiary of US

military aid, and received $1.3 billion in 2018.

Pro-Western Jordan was

allocated $443 million in US military assistance last year.

Both countries

border Palestinian areas and Israel.Global financial bodies including the International Monetary

Fund and World Bank are expected to attend the Bahrain meeting.

Saudi Arabia,

Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have also confirmed their attendance, a White

House official said.Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil said on Tuesday his

country would not attend because “the Palestinians will not participate, and we

prefer to have a clear idea of the proposed peace plan, as we have not been

consulted or informed about it.”

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