Most Palestinians back boycott of Bahrain meet, say statehood trumps prosperity
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Most Palestinians back boycott of Bahrain meet, say statehood trumps prosperity

Poll finds almost 80% think Ramallah was correct to stay away from US-led workshop, even more say independence tops economic plan

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

Palestinian demonstrators carry banners and national flags during a protest against the US-sponsored Middle East economic conference that opens today in Bahrain, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus on June 25, 2019. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)
Palestinian demonstrators carry banners and national flags during a protest against the US-sponsored Middle East economic conference that opens today in Bahrain, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Nablus on June 25, 2019. (Jaafar Ashtiyeh/AFP)

An overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership’s decision to boycott the US-led economic workshop in Bahrain last week and say statehood is more important than a vibrant economy, a poll published on Wednesday found.

Seventy-nine percent of Palestinians said they supported the Palestinian Authority’s decision to not send a representative to Bahrain for the June 25-26 workshop, while 15% stated that they oppose it, according to the survey by the Ramallah-based Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.

The conference in Bahrain focused on the economic portion of the American administration’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and was accompanied by a plan to pump $50 billion into the West Bank, Gaza Strip and neighboring Arab countries.

But the Palestinian leadership refused to engage with the summit, asserting that it was undermining its aspirations for statehood by putting a financial plan ahead of a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Most Palestinian businessmen invited to the conference boycotted the event, along with a number of Arab states, at Ramallah’s urging, and several cities in the West Bank, Gaza and elsewhere saw protests against the workshop.

The survey found that 83% of Palestinians said they preferred political independence to economic prosperity, while 15% chose the opposite.

Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has insisted that the US will eventually release the political portion of its peace plan. He has also said that Palestinian economic prosperity requires a “fair political solution, one that guarantees Israel’s security, and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people.”

On Wednesday, he told reporters the Trump administration would release new information about its peace plan next week.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (R) and Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat (L) attend the opening session of the 30th Arab League summit in the Tunisian capital Tunis on March 31, 2019. (Fethi Belaid/Pool/AFP)

According to the survey, 90% of Palestinians said they do not trust the Trump administration when it states that the goal of the confab in Bahrain was to improve Palestinian economic conditions, whereas 6% said they do, according to the survey.

US and Israeli officials have lashed out at the Palestinians for refusing to participate in the summit.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu censured the Palestinian leadership’s boycott of the conference on Tuesday, accusing it of holding “the prosperity of their own people hostage to their ideology against Israel.”

Eighty-five percent of Palestinians said that they do not believe “the Israeli occupation of the West Bank” would come to an end if the PA accepts the US peace plan, while 10% said they think it would, the survey also found.

Netanyahu has insisted that any peace deal must include Israel maintaining a military presence in the West Bank’s Jordan Valley.

The poll surveyed 1,200 Palestinians in 120 randomly selected locations in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem between June 27 and 30.

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