Palestinian Authorities to boycott peace conference in Bahrain after being excluded during planning stages.
Rabat – Since taking office, American president Donald Trump has followed a businessman’s model in politics. He has recently applied this approach to the conflict in Palestine with the unveiling of his long-awaited Middle East Peace Plan, which has placed economic considerations above political ones.
On Sunday, May 19, the White House announced that the long-awaited Middle East Peace Plan spearheaded by US President Donald Trump and his son-in-law Jared Kushner would begin in June, following the end of Ramadan.
Focusing first on improving economic conditions in the region, the plan would begin with a conference in Bahrain focused on investment and economic development. According to the announcement, the conference would center around improving conditions in the West Bank and Gaza, funded primarily by wealthier Gulf and Arab nations.
However, shortly following the announcement of the conference, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh revealed that the Palestinian Authority had not been consulted with, or involved in pre-conference planning and negotiation.
“The cabinet wasn’t consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome nor timing,” Shtayyeh said on Monday.
With the consideration that the conference was principally focused on development within Palestinian territory, the lack of consultation with Palestinian Authority has been widely regarded by Palestinians as insulting.
In response, the Palestinian Authority has announced a boycott of the conference, citing concerns that the economic focus of the project would disrupt any real prospects for a successful peace.
“We will inform Bahrain that we will not take part in such a conference,” said Nabil Shaath, an adviser to Palestinian State President Mahmoud Abbas. “We will not sell our country based on an economic project.”
The Palestinian Authority has also voiced their opposition to the plan based on the lack of consideration for the Palestinian perspective regarding negotiations and participation in the conference.
“There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop,” said Ahmed Majdalani, Palestine’s Social Development Minister. “Any Palestinian who would take part would be be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel.”
This is not the first occasion where negotiations have broken down, breakdowns in communication and cooperation have long plagued peace projects and negotiation in the region. Meanwhile, the myriad of conflicting perspectives on conflict resolution mean that a resolution for lasting peace remains out of reach.
The American vision for Israel
Trump’s friendly relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is no secret. From the US recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, to blaming Hamas for ongoing flare-ups in regional conflict, the US remain firmly in the Israeli camp .
In addition, much of the population of the United States continues to support Israel over Palestine, with the most recent Gallup poll showing that 64 percent of Americans sympathize with Israel over Palestine, the highest level it has reached in over three decades.
This swelling in American support for Israel has manifested in numerous ways, including a massive leap in Israeli funding towards West Bank settlements. Since the beginning of Trump’s presidency in 2017, funding has jumped to $459 million from $330 million in the previous year.
Thus far, Washington has been unyielding in its support for Israel’s territorial claims and continues to forge peace strategies which allow Israel to maintain its influence and power in the region.
This became even more clear in early May, when Kushner indicated that the US may withdraw from its previous approach which focused on a two-state solution.
“If you say ‘two-state’, it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians,” Kushner said. “We said, you know, let’s just not say it. Let’s just say, let’s work on the details of what this means,”
Palestinian-US relations reach boiling point
The Palestinian Authority has been equally unyielding in its demands for liberation and independence from Israel
Condemning the proposed plan, the Palestinian Authority, cited concerns that it would be a “consecration” of Palestinian suffering.
“The US ‘deal of the century’ is the consecration of our century-old ordeal: no independence, no sovereignty, no freedom, no justice,” said Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki.
“And if they do not think that this situation will have an impact on the future of Israel and the region, one way or the other, they are the ones that are delusional, not us.”
The conflicting American and Palestinian perspectives were exacerbated in 2017, when the Palestinian Authority severed ties with the US government following a string of hostile moves by the United States and Israel.
Among these decisions was the slashing of hundreds of millions of dollars of US aid to United Nations designed for projects in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as cutting funding for hospitals in Jerusalem which provide medical services for Palestinians.
As a result, the gap between Palestine and Israel has continued to grow wider, and this plan has been as heavily opposed as those in the past.
“This is not a peace plan but rather conditions for surrender,” al-Maliki said. “And there is no amount of money that can make it acceptable.”