Panning Bahrain workshop, Abbas says national rights are not a real estate deal

Palestinian leader to meet Jordanian King Abdullah to consult about ‘what happened in Manama,’ Ramallah official says

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

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera meeting in Ramallah on June 27, 2019. (Credit: Wafa)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera meeting in Ramallah on June 27, 2019. (Credit: Wafa)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas continued to push back Thursday against a US-led economic conference, saying that Palestinian political aspirations could not be bought or sold.

Abbas made the comment at a press conference in Ramallah alongside visiting Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, a day after the conclusion of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in the Bahraini capital of Manama.

“We say that national rights are not pieces of real estate that are purchased and sold and that arriving at a political solution that guarantees freedom, dignity, independence and justice for our people must precede any economic programs or projects because that will create stability and security for everyone,” Abbas said. “For that reason, the State of Palestine did not participate in the American workshop that took place two days ago in Manama.”

The PA president and other Palestinian officials made similar comments in the run-up to the conference, which took place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The conference focused on the economic portion of the US administration’s peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes proposals for more than $50 billion of investment over the next 10 years in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.

In this June 25, 2019, photo released by Bahrain News Agency, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner talks to the audience during the opening session of the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Manama, Bahrain. (Bahrain News Agency via AP)

A small number of Palestinian businessmen attended the summit and only Ashraf Jabari, a Hebron area businessman with ties to Israeli settlers and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, spoke on one of its panels. Jabari has faced intense criticism for his relations with Israeli settlers and is often derided as being outside of the Palestinian mainstream.

Abbas left to Amman on Thursday, where he will meet Jordanian King Abdullah II to consult about “what happened in Manama,” an official in the PA president’s office, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel, without elaborating.

On Wednesday, Abbas and Abdullah spoke on the phone and both expressed support for the Arab Peace Initiative, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

The Arab Peace Initiative calls on Israel to agree to a two-state solution along the 1967 lines and a “just” solution to the Palestinian refugee issue, in exchange for Arab nations subsequently normalizing relations with it and declaring the Arab-Israeli conflict over.

White House adviser Jared Kushner said earlier this week that the US plan would not hew closely to the 2002 proposal.

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