Tue, May 21, 2019 - Page 6 News List

Palestinians plan boycott of US-led peace conference


Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh yesterday said that any US peace plan that ignores the Palestinian people’s political aspirations for an independent state is doomed to fail.

Shtayyeh’s comments immediately cast a cloud over the US-led Mideast peace conference expected to take place late next month in the tiny Persian Gulf state of Bahrain.

A short time later, the Palestinian Authority said aid it would boycott the conference.

“We will inform Bahrain that we will not take part in such a conference,” said Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. “We will not sell our country based on an economic project.”

The White House on Sunday announced it would unveil the first phase of its long-awaited Mideast peace plan at the conference, saying it would focus on economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.

The plan envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries.

However, officials say the June 25 to 26 conference would not include the core political issues at the center of the conflict: final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees or Israeli security demands.

“Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political ... and based on ending the occupation,” Shtayyeh said at a Palestinian Cabinet meeting. “The current financial crisis is a result of a financial war waged against us and we will not succumb to blackmailing and extortion and will not trade our national rights for money.”

The Palestinians, who severed ties with the US over a year ago, have repeatedly expressed fears that the White House will try to buy them off with large sums of investment in exchange for freezing their demands for an independent state.

They believe the US is trying to rally support from other Arab countries to bully them into accepting a plan they see as unacceptable.

In a joint statement with Bahrain, the White House said the gathering would give government, civil and business leaders a chance to rally support for economic initiatives that could be possible with a peace agreement.

“The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives,” US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, said on Sunday.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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