PA calls Bahrain conference a ‘stunning failure’ for Trump administration

Abbas spokesman says White House pursues policy of ‘punishment and intimidation’ for US-led summit, where economic aspects of peace plan were unveiled

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)
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)

The Palestinian Authority hit back at US President Donald Trump on Saturday, accusing him and his administration of pursuing a policy of “punishment and intimidation” surrounding the much-vaunted Bahrain conference this past week.

In a statement to the press, PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the conference a “stunning failure,” despite the “policy of punishment and intimidation used by the Trump administration against everyone.”

The charge came days after Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner unveiled the economic aspects of a proposed US peace plan at the two-day summit in the Gulf state and was in response to Trump’s remark earlier Saturday that there will never be an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement if one isn’t negotiated during his presidency.

Palestinian officials refused to attend the summit in Manama, 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 in Manama.

The PA has boycotted the Trump administration since December 2017 when the US president officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

File: Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, speaks at a press conference in the West Bank city of Ramallah on December 5, 2017. (Flash90)

Abu Rudeineh said the Palestinian’s refusal to attend the Bahrain conference should “constitute a clear message to Mr. Trump and his administration that the policy of dictates, threats and coercion is no longer effective with our steadfast people and its legitimate leadership headed by President Mahmoud Abbas, which rejected all suspicious deals aimed at the liquidation of our national cause.”

In a statement Thursday, Abbas argued that a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must precede projects to develop the Palestinian economy.

“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 charged.

Abu Rudeineh said Saturday that the road to peace was clear and “must be based on the UN resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative, not on economic illusions that replace land for peace with prosperity for peace.”

The spokesman also lashed out at the US team behind the plan, saying the group was “totally biased toward Israel,” and “cannot offer solutions that can lead to a lasting and just peace.”

At the conference, titled “Peace to Prosperity,” Kushner rolled out an economic plan that proposed a $50 billion investment for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and countries in the region over the course of 10 years, and pledged to create up to a million new jobs.

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)

The proposal was dismissed by the PA, which says that Kushner’s plan is a pretext by the pro-Israel Trump administration to impose a political solution that it says will adopt Israel’s positions on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Kushner said that the administration will put out the political component at the “right time” — and said that different people were drafting the political and economic plans.

He also said despite the PA boycott, the door was still to open to the Palestinians.

On Saturday, Trump said he believed the Palestinians were interested in an agreement, despite the boycott.

“With me being president, if you don’t get that deal done it’ll never happen,” Trump said during a press conference at the end of the G20 summit in Japan.

“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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