The U.S.-led “Economic Workshop” in Bahrain is set to conclude this evening, after two-days of intensive discussions regarding the fiscal dimension of President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century.”
Senior White House Adviser Jared Kushner, who led the team that orchestrated the event, urged participants to give the ‘partially unveiled’ initiative – which ultimately aims to resolve the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict – a serious chance. He added that: “The goal of this workshop is to begin thinking about these challenges in a new way. Let’s try to view this conflict and the potential of the entire region through a different lens, and work together to develop a concrete plan to try and achieve it.”
Responding to wide-spread criticism from senior political individuals who condemn Washington’s efforts for an apparent ‘lack of political and legal dimensions’; Kushner acknowledged that “economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people (is) not possible without an enduring and fair political solution.” In his words: “For too long the Palestinian people have been trapped in an inefficient framework of the past. The peace to prosperity vision is a modern framework for a brighter and more prosperous future. It is a vision of what is possible with peace.” / “To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict. One that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people. However today is not about the political issues. We’ll get to those at the right time.”
Despite an obstinate decision by the Palestinian leadership to boycott the Economic workshop, in protest of President Donald Trump’s unapologetic support for the Jewish State; Kushner sought to reassure the Palestinian public of Washington’s genuine intent. Kushner said: “My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past tell you, President Trump and America have not given up on you. This workshop is for you.”
The Palestinian objection to the American initiative was clearly projected across the Arab world over the course of the past several days. Black flags were hung outside of stores in Palestinian towns and cities, and demonstrations erupted, during which protesters called upon the Muslim world to shun the Bahrain conference.
In spite of the fact that the “economic workshop” was promoted as the first part of Washington’s broader political blueprint to resolve the Mideast conflict, Palestinian Authority negotiator Saeb Erekat dubbed the American initiative as “total failure.” According to Saeb Erekat, who is the Palestinian (PA – PLO) Chief Negotiator: “This team is not balanced at all. This team is trying to dictate the program of the settlers council, and it’s a total failure. I would not give this paper a ‘D’ just for effort.”
Despite years of bitter rivalries between the leading Palestinian factions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; disrupting U.S. efforts projected a rare sense of Palestinian unity. Leader of the Islamist Hamas Ismail Haniyeh said, during a joint gathering with his rival Fatah movement of President Mahmoud Abbas, that the Palestinians will never accept any compromise over what they perceive as ‘the lands of Palestine.’ “We reject the Deal of the Century. We will not give away anything of the land of Palestine, all of Palestine, we will not give Jerusalem away, we will not resettle, and we will not accept an alternative homeland. We will not accept expansion projects that are in the dreams and in the imagination of some people, such as expanding Gaza to Sinai, and expanding the West Bank to Jordan, or Jordan to be in control of the West Bank or Egypt to be in control of Gaza. Palestine is only Palestine,” the Hamas Leader said.
Regardless of Israel’s decision not to send any official representation to the Bahrain conference, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said “We’ll hear the American proposition; we will hear it fairly and with openness. And I cannot understand how the Palestinians before they even heard the plan, reject it outright,” during a tour of the Jordan valley together with U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton earlier this week.
Nevertheless, the Israeli leader underscored that the Jewish State could never compromise on its security, which according to Netanyahu ‘demands an Israeli presence in the region of the Jordan valley,’ which is a long strip of land situated along the border with Israel’s eastern neighbor – the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Netanyahu stated: “We believe that peace is coupled and dependent on security. Our presence here guarantees security and therefore guarantees peace.”