Palestinians boast of foiling Bahrain peace conference

Palestinians boast of foiling Bahrain peace conference

After US confirms no Israeli officials will attend economic workshop, Abbas spokesman says ‘Washington cannot and will not succeed on its own in achieving anything’

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)
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)

The spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Tuesday boasted that the Palestinians had foiled next week’s US-led economic workshop in Bahrain, a day after it was confirmed that no Israeli officials will be attending the conference.

The Palestinians have strongly opposed the June 25-26 conference in Manama and urged Arab states to stay away, arguing it will be placing economic issues ahead of reaching a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Abbas has boycotted the White House since US President Donald Trump’s 2017 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

In a statement carried by the PA’s official Wafa news agency, his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, said “any meeting, whether in Bahrain or elsewhere and without the legitimate Palestinian endorsement, proves that Washington cannot and will not succeed on its own in achieving anything.”

Citing Abbas’s position on the status of Jerusalem, payments for terror convicts in Israeli prisons and “Palestinian identity,” Abu Rudeineh vowed the PA “will foil any plot, or workshop or meeting.”

He added, “The choice of our people is clear and firm and will defeat any conspiracy.”

Illustrative: Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, left, listens to Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa during an emergency Arab League session in Cairo, Egypt, May 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Abu Rudeineh did not say how the Palestinians had thwarted the conference, which is still scheduled to go ahead next week, but his comments came a day after a US official said no Israeli government officials would take part in the workshop.

“This is a workshop where we will present our economic vision for the Palestinian people,” the US official said. “As such, we want the focus to be on the economic aspect, not the political.”

A “single-digit” number of Israeli businessmen have been invited, as has the former head of the Defense Ministry unit that liaises with the Palestinians, according to a source with knowledge of the matter.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israelis would attend the conference, without giving further details.

The US administration and Bahrain announced in mid-May that they will host an economic workshop 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 the White House’s apparently forthcoming plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.

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