Erdogan says ‘out of question’ to support US Palestinian plan

After Trump insists Palestinians want to negotiate despite boycotting White House, Turkish leader says no way to ‘approach this issue positively’

US President Donald Trump (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
US President Donald Trump (R) and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hold a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Osaka on June 29, 2019. (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said it was “out of the question” for Turkey to support the US economic plan for Palestinians, in comments published on Monday.

The White House plan revealed last week calls for $50 billion in investment over 10 years in the Palestinian territories and their Arab neighbors.

“It is out of the question for us to approach this issue positively,” Erdogan told journalists aboard his plane returning from the G-20 summit in Japan, according to pro-government daily Yeni Safak.

Listing a slew of projects to develop roads, border crossings, power generation and tourism, the US framework sets an optimistic goal of creating a million Palestinian jobs.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has, however, hinted that its political plan — due later in the year — will not mention a Palestinian state, abandoning longstanding US policy.

The Palestinian Authority and its rival Hamas have both denounced the economic initiative, saying it amounts to a bid by the Trump administration to buy off their aspirations for an independent state.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, fifth from left, and Bahrain Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, sixth from left, listen to White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, standing, during the opening session of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama, Bahrain on June 25, 2019. (Bahrain News Agency via AP)

Palestinian officials refused to attend a summit in Bahrain last week that focused on promoting the economic plan, and called on Arab states not to participate. Though there were brief tensions surrounding immediate confirmations to attend, officials from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco were all present at the conference.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017, when the US president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Trump administration has also halted aid to the Palestinians, pressuring them to resume peace negotiations with Israel.

On Saturday, the Palestinian Authority accused the Trump administration of pursuing a policy of “punishment and intimidation” surrounding the much-vaunted Bahrain workshop.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the conference a “stunning failure,” saying that political solution to the conflict must precede projects to develop the Palestinian economy. He was responding to remarks at the G20 by Trump, who told reporters that if no peace deal was reached between Israel and the Palestinians under his presidency, there will never be one.

Palestinians burn posters of US President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Hamad al-Khalifa of Bahrain in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah on June 25, 2019, during a protest against the US-led Peace to Prosperity conference in Bahrain. (SAID KHATIB / AFP)

At a press conference in Osaka, Trump insisted that Palestinians were interested in an agreement, despite their boycott of his government.

“I know they want to make a deal, but they want to be a little bit cute — and that is okay. I fully understand where they are coming from,” he said.

Trump further said there was a “very good chance” of reaching an agreement, which he said “may very well be the toughest deal of all.”

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