The Palestinian Authority reports that it has a list of 15 top Palestinian businessmen who have refused their invitations to the Bahrain Israel-Palestinian peace deal economic workshop. Top of the list is the well-known Palestinian businessman Bashar Masri who developed the city of Rawabi in the West Bank.
Some of the refusals by Palestinian businessmen were announced on social media together with a photograph of the personal invitation from the US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin and a statement that they have no intention of violating the Palestinian national consensus to boycott the Bahrain meeting.
Such public statements are important and part of the pressure by the Palestinian Authority on potential Palestinian business delegates to Bahrain to ensure that the meeting can only go ahead without Palestinian representatives. However, some Palestinians have expressed reservations about this approach. Former Palestinian Authority minister Nabil Amro told a press conference that while any deal without a political solution should be rejected, the trend of major economic support and long-term construction for the Palestinian economy should be welcomed. He called on the Palestinian leadership to be attentive to US proposals due to global developments and to consider diplomatic proposals, which will be offered, in a positive way.
Palestinian Authority head Abu Mazen has met with Emir Tamim bin Hamad al Thani of Qatar who announced last week a series of grants and loans to the Palestinians worth $500 million, mainly to the Palestinian Authority. Abu Mazen wants control of the money including the funds that will go to Hamas-controlled Gaza. Abu Mazen took proof to Qatar, according to Palestinian sources, that Hamas does not use the funds for the aims for which they are designated. From Qatar, Abu Mazen is to tour Europe and other countries to persuade leaders not to support US President Trump's Middle East peace initiative.
Meanwhile the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt have announced that they will participate in the Bahrain meeting and Oman is also expected to confirm that they will attend. Huge pressure is being placed on Jordan to attend, especially from Saudi Arabia. Without the financial support that Jordan receives from Saudi Arabia, it would be difficult for Jordan to maintain internal stability. Thus Jordan's King Abdullah finds himself caught between the Saudi-US hammer and the anvil of Palestinian opposition including his own Palestinian citizens. Jordan's decision will be crucial in the success or failure of the Bahrain meeting.
Bahrain's Foreign Minister Khalid Khalifa has tweeted that his country is determined to support the constitutional and justified rights of the Palestinians including the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. He added that the aim of the Bahrain workshop is to improve the economic plight of the Palestinians and build an infrastructure for the future Palestinian state.
A US diplomat has told "Globes" that it was clear that the Palestinians would refuse to attend the Bahrain workshop but that he was still disappointed to see how they were insisting on missing an opportunity, or at least considering it. He added that Abu Mazen had been contacted by main friendly leaders urging him not to dismiss out of hand the plan and to respond only after he had seen the full details.
US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt has told the Arab media that history will not forgive the Palestinian leadership if they will miss an opportunity to alter the destiny of their people. He stressed that the purpose of the plan is to bring prosperity and security to the residents of the region and this requires a new formula that does not repeat the mistakes of the past.
He explained that the plan includes diplomatic solutions requiring all sides to be flexible and to make sacrifices but that the economic advantages and dramatic changes it would bring would make it worthwhile for all concerned.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on May 23, 2019
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2019