In the first public comments on the U.S.-sponsored economic workshop to be held next month in Bahrain, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas said  Monday that Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts “will go to hell.”
Speaking at a ceremony in Ramallah, Abbas declared that, “The Palestinian Authority does not recognize this conference.” The PA chairman went on to describe the U.S. peace initiative as a “disgrace” and predicted that “the economic project they are working on for next month will also go to hell.”
After the White House announced last week that it will present the economic aspects of its long-awaited peace plan at the workshop in the kingdom’s capital Manama on June 25-26, the PA immediately announced that it would boycott the conference.
Last Wednesday, several high-ranking PA officials formally rejected an invitation to participate in the event, with senior PA negotiator Saeb Erekat saying that “the conference will surely fail without Palestinian participation.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, several Arab states are opposed to the Palestinian leadership’s defensiveness and have since been pressuring the PA to participate in the workshop. The PA’s response to U.S. peace efforts has been marked by a policy of total rejectionism, even before details of the plan were leaked.
“Some Arab countries are unhappy that we immediately rejected the idea of the workshop (…) They are now asking us to stop attacking the workshop and not to oppose the participation of Palestinian businessmen,” a senior PA official told the Post, without naming the states involved.
Bahrain’s Foreign Minister, Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa, said earlier that the conference “serves no other purpose” than to help the Palestinian people “through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources.”
Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have already confirmed their participation in the conference, and Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon also intends to attend.
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