Palestinian president Abbas says certain Bahrain conference will fail

AFP , Sunday 23 Jun 2019

 Mahmoud Abbas
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks to the foreign media in Ramallah, in the Israel-occupied West Bank June 23, 2019. REUTERS

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said Sunday he was confident a peace conference this week in Bahrain would fail.

"We are certain that the workshop in Manama will not be successful," Abbas, who is boycotting the US-led conference focussed on the Palestinian economy, told journalists.

The US government unveiled Saturday the economic part of its peace plan that it will present in Bahrain on Tuesday and Wednesday, with the aim of raising more than $50 billion for the Palestinians and creating one million jobs within a decade.

Abbas's government had already rejected the proposal, saying the dispute with Israel is political and accusing the US of seeking to buy Palestinian support.

"We will not be slaves or servants for Greenblatt, Kushner and Friedman," Abbas told journalists at his presidential office in Ramallah, referring to US President Donald Trump's negotiating team, including his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

"We need the economic (support), the money and the assistance, but before everything there is a political solution.

"For America to turn the whole cause from a political issue into an economic one, we cannot accept this."

Abbas, 84, cut off ties with the US administration in December 2017 after Trump broke with decades of international consensus and recognised Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinians see the eastern part of the disputed city as the capital of their future state.

They have since refused to accept American-led negotiations with Israel, accusing the Trump administration of systematic bias.

Kushner is expected to lead the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop in Bahrain, the first part of Trump administration's long-delayed peace proposal.

All major Palestinian businesspeople are boycotting the event, while no Israeli government officials are expected to attend.

The US plan released on Saturday offered the potential of unprecedented international investment and dramatically improved infrastructure, education and internal governance in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the event of a peace deal with Israel.

The political part of the plan is expected to be released later, likely after Israeli elections in September.

Despite the severing of ties between the Palestinian Authority and the United States, Abbas told reporters the PA had maintained security ties with the US Central Intelligence Agency, saying it was necessary to help fight terrorism.

Short link: