Palestinian gov't says it was not consulted about US-led economic conference

Palestinian officials will not attend a US-led conference in Bahrain next month created to draw investment to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Reuters reports.

Trump has touted the coming plan as the "deal of the century" but Palestinian officials have rebuked the United States effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favour of Israel.

In a statement, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the conference would "offer Palestinians exciting new opportunities to realize their full potential".

"There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop", Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani, who is also a member of the executive committee of the umbrella Palestine Liberation Organization, said on Monday.

"Any formulation to the warfare in Palestine dangle to be political... and in step with ending the occupation", Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh acknowledged Monday, in step with The Associated Press.

"The cabinet wasn't consulted about the reported workshop, neither over the content, nor the outcome nor timing", he told reporters.

The news has been met with a cool response from Ramallah.

A spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas said "any economic plan without political horizons will lead nowhere".

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

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

But Rami Khouri, a senior public policy fellow and journalism professor at the American University of Beirut, said it would make little difference whether the Palestinian's attended the talks or not.

According to Falk, Israel wants to force Palestinians to accept Israeli victory as a reality, then Tel Aviv can think about "an economic peace" that can spur improvement in Palestinian lives.

Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner speaks with guests after U.S. President Donald Trump delivered remarks on immigration reform in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 16, 2019.

The Trump administration is expected to unveil the long-awaited plan possibly as early as next month.

The Manama conference, entitled "Peace to Prosperity", is billed as an global economic "workshop" that will bring together government and business leaders to help jump-start the economic portion of the broader U.S. peace initiative.

Trump has touted the coming plan as the "deal of the century", but Palestinian officials have rebuked the US effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Sunday's joint statement from the USA and Bahrain called the event a "pivotal share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanise support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement".

The plan focuses on infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people and reforming the Palestinian government.

"It's very frustrating for ordinary Palestinians", Greenblatt said.

Other reports suggested that while the PA "is not expected to participate in the workshop", a senior U.S. official "said the White House invited a group of Palestinian businessmen and is expecting some of them to attend".

  • Jon Douglas