'Deal with Israeli theft first': Senior Palestinian official snubs US peace initiative

'Deal with Israeli theft first': Senior Palestinian official snubs US peace initiative
Washington should first work on ending "Israeli theft" of Palestinian land, senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi said on Saturday, dismissing an upcoming US economic initiative in Bahrain.
3 min read
22 June, 2019
Ashrawi dismissed the upcoming US peace initiative summit in Bahrain [AFP]

Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi on Saturday dismissed a US economic initiative for peace saying Washington should work first on ending "Israeli theft of our land".

"First lift the siege of Gaza, stop the Israeli theft of our land, resources and funds, give us our freedom of movement and control over our borders, airspace, territorial waters etc. Then watch us build a vibrant prosperous economy as a free and sovereign people," Ashrawi said in a tweet after the US unveiled details for the first time of its long-awaited peace initiative.

Ashrawi is a longtime aide to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and a member of the Palestine Liberation Organisation's executive committee who has been involved in Palestinian politics for decades.

Her comments came as the United States said on Saturday that its Middle East peace plan to be presented next week in Bahrain aims to raise more than $50 billion for the Palestinians and create one million jobs for them within a decade.

In a step likely to outrage Palestinian leaders, it said that money would be administered by a multinational development bank as a way to ensure better governance and prevent corruption.

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the two-day conference - dubbed the Peace to Prosperity Workshop - that opens on Tuesday, charging that pro-Israel Trump is seeking to buy the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

Comment: Why is the Trump administration afraid of Hanan Ashrawi?

"Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date," the plan released by the White House Saturday said.

The White House cast the plan - to be discussed in more detail in Bahrain with finance chiefs of oil-rich Gulf Arab states - as historic.

Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner spent more than two years working on the plan, which was also crafted by Jason Greenblatt, the American president's Middle East envoy.

The Palestinian leadership is deeply distrustful of Kushner, a family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

In a recent tweet Ashrawi referred to Greenblatt as a "self-appointed advocate/apologist for Israel".

Rejected by Palestinians 

The Bahrain conference is seen as a betrayal by Palestinians and a symbol of Arabs endorsing the US' plan for the future of the Middle East, despite the Trump administration's notorious support of Israel's illegal occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem.

Palestinian factions have come together to host their own summit to discuss the future of Palestine, in a meeting that will take place at the exact same time as Bahrain’s Deal of the Century conference on 25-26 June.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas will attend the summit in Lebanon's capital city, in what is an apparent snub to the upcoming Manama summit.

The Bahrain conference will focus on economic issues and is backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, despite a Palestinian boycott. Palestinians say they were not consulted about the conference.

The plan has been widely rejected by Palestinians because of Trump’s previous recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and expectations that the plan will recognise Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank.

Egypt and Jordan's participation at the Bahrain meeting is considered particularly important because they have historically been key players in Middle East peace efforts and are the only Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel.

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