Fatah calls off strike planned to protest US-led conference in Bahrain
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Fatah calls off strike planned to protest US-led conference in Bahrain

Official says party canceled labor action to avoid hurting businesses, interfering with high school matriculation exams; ‘marches in the homeland and diaspora’ scheduled instead

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

A Palestinian woman walks past closed shops after a strike was called to protest against the social security law proposed by the Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank town of Hebron on January 15, 2019. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)
A Palestinian woman walks past closed shops after a strike was called to protest against the social security law proposed by the Palestinian Authority, in the West Bank town of Hebron on January 15, 2019. (HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party has decided to cancel a strike it had planned to protest the US-led economic workshop in Bahraini capital of Manama next week.

Fatah announced on Saturday in a statement that a strike, including all of the private and public sectors, would take place on June 25 to demonstrate the Palestinian people’s “rejection and condemnation of the Manama workshop.”

Fatah also declared that “angry national marches and events” against the conference would take place on June 24, and called on Palestinians “to escalate popular resistance against the occupation and settler gangs” on June 26.

The faction, however, said in a statement on Sunday that the strike was canceled, noting that, instead, “marches in the homeland and diaspora” will occur.

The US administration and Bahrain announced in mid-May that they will host an economic workshop in Manama on June 25 and 26 that “will facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region.”

American officials have said that the summit will deal with the economic portion of its apparently forthcoming plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians have firmly rejected participating in the conference; Abbas has said the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership will not accept its results and demanded that any peace effort begin with political rather than economic matters.

Palestinian demonstrators hold Fatah party flags as they demonstrate in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron on November 4, 2015. (AFP/HAZEM BADER)

Since US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and initiated the relocation of the US Embassy in the Jewish state to the city, the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has significantly downgraded its ties with Washington.

Bassam Zakarneh, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, said that the party called off the strike largely to avoid interfering with high school matriculation exams.

“We wanted to make sure that the students could focus fully on their tests,” he said in a phone call.

Palestinians high school students are scheduled to take matriculation exams over the next several days, including on June 24 and 26.

Zakarneh also noted that Fatah partially canceled the strike to prevent undermining the local economy.

“When all the shops and businesses are closed, there are repercussions for the economy,” he said. “Especially considering the difficult economic situation, we do not want to cause additional stress on the economy.”

Palestinians in West Bank cities generally abide by strikes when Fatah or the Palestine Liberation Organization call for them.

Fatah dominates the Palestinian Authority, which controls West Banks cities and some villages. The Hamas terror group rules Gaza.

PLO Executive Committee member Wasel Abu Yousef accused Fatah of orginally announcing the strike without reaching a consensus with other PLO factions.

“Fatah made a mistake,” he said in a phone call. “We did not reach a consensus that a strike should take place and Fatah should not have announced it, but I am relieved that it ultimately decided to cancel it.”

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