Saudi Arabia back ‘Deal of the Century’ conference despite Palestinian boycott
The Bahrain conference will offer financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation. [Getty]
Date of publication: 22 May, 201 The New Arab
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will send senior ministers to participate in an economic conference next month in Bahrain in support of US President Donald Trump’s controversial Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
Saudi state news agency SPA reported on Wednesday that the Saudi minister of economy and planning will attend the conference.
The UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said it will also send a delegation to the economic workshop.
The ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference is to be hosted on June 25-26 but has been strongly rebuffed by Palestinian leaders, who were not invited to the talks.
“We were not consulted by any party on the announced meeting to take place in Manama, Bahrain,” Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said last week.
“We have not mandated any party to negotiate on our behalf.”
The PLO and Hamas have called for an Arab boycott of the meeting, viewing it as offering financial rewards in exchange for accepting ongoing Israeli occupation.
The economic workshop, set for June 25-26 in Bahrain, will not address the most contentious parts of the conflict: borders, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees and Israel’s security.
The conference is expected to bring together leaders from several governments, civil society and the business sector.
The plan is likely to call for billions of dollars in financial backing for Palestinians from oil-rich Gulf states, people close to discussions say.
The Palestinians severed ties with the White House after Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017 and subsequently moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The US has also cut hundreds of millions of dollars of aid for the Palestinians and closed the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.
The Palestinians have already said they would reject any peace plan offered by the US, saying Trump is unfairly biased toward Israel.