Palestine’s Position on the Manama Economic Workshop
June 20, 2019
1. What is going to happen in Manama?
The Trump Administration has called for a so-called “workshop” to take place in Manama, Bahrain, on June 25-26 to discuss the Palestinian economy under the slogan “Peace to Prosperity.” US officials have described it as “the opportunity of a generation.” But it is not. US officials have described the Manama meeting as part of their alleged plan aimed at making Palestinians “digest” the political part of it. Palestine is not willing to entertain any initiative aimed at stripping Palestinians of their rights and therefore has announced that it won’t be participating, including its private sector and civil society.
2. Should Palestine be present at Manama?
Our presence in Manama would only be used to legitimize the US initiative that aims at depriving us of our rights, changing the historical formula of “land for peace” to “peace to prosperity.” Over almost three years, Palestinians and the rest of the world have seen enough to have a clear idea of what the Trump Administration has been doing to undermine the prospects of a just and lasting peace in the region.
3. Why don’t Palestinians “just sit” with the Trump Administration?
Palestine gave more than one chance to the Trump Administration, including dozens of meetings over the year 2017. This engagement was interrupted by its illegal unilateral decision of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The Trump Administration’s vision has highlighted deep ideological endorsement to Israel’s illegal policies and practices as well as an apparent ignorance of the Middle East Peace Process (MEPP) and the basic principles of international law.
4. What kind of unilateral actions did the Trump Administration take that undermine the prospects for peace in the region?
The Trump Administration has taken several steps that violate its obligations under international law, UN resolutions, and their commitments to the peace process. This includes (1) the recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in violation of UNSC Resolution 478; (2) the legitimization of the acquisition of territory through the use of force, in violation of the UN Charter, the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, and the relevant UNSC resolutions including 2334; (3) its blatant attempts at prejudging the result of negotiations over issues that the parties agreed to deal with in a final status agreement, including the issue of Palestine’s refugees; (4) its support of Israeli settlement construction and businesses, and other illegal actions, in violation of the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people – mainly our right to self-determination.
5. Are the Palestinians “rejectionists” always saying “no” to all initiatives?
Such accusations, derived from Israel's propaganda machine, are unfair and baseless. Since 1988, the PLO has been the only party that has made real concessions for the sake of peace; recognizing the 1967 border and accepting the establishment of the State of Palestine on 22% of our historic homeland (the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip). On the other hand, Israel has almost tripled its colonial settler population while the security of Palestine and its people is under the constant threat of the Israeli occupying forces and settlers.
Palestine still considers the articulation of the Arab Peace Initiative as the most comprehensive peace plan ever presented in the Middle East. What Palestine rejects are the attempts at legitimizing the denial of our rights, including Israel's colonial-settlement enterprise, a position that should be supported by the international community.
6. Have the Palestinians presented their position on the Peace Process?
Yes. President Mahmoud Abbas addressed the UN Security Council on 20 February 2018 to introduce the Palestinian Peace Initiative. The plan calls for:
The convening of an international peace conference, based on international law and relevant UN resolutions.
Direct negotiations during which all parties must refrain from unilateral actions deemed illegal under international law, particularly those that would prejudge the outcome of a comprehensive solution, as outlined in Article 31 of the Oslo Accords of 1993, including the full cessation of Israel’s colonial-settlement activities on lands belonging to the State of Palestine.
The implementation of the Arab Peace Initiative, as adopted and endorsed, and the conclusion of a regional agreement upon the achievement of a peace agreement between Israel and Palestine.
7. Why shouldn’t the Palestinians take advantage of the US initiative due to the current economic crisis?
Palestine's economy is primarily strangled by the Israeli occupation that controls our borders, air-space, maritime border, electromagnetic sphere, and natural resources, which Israel (and Israeli and international businesses) exploit for its benefit. The current economic crisis has been provoked by the financial war waged by the Trump Administration against the Palestinian people. If anyone is interested in the economic development of Palestine, they should tackle the root causes that have prevented Palestinians from reaching their full potential in our country. Israel's colonial occupation has to end for Palestine and the Palestinian people to manage a thriving economy, in cooperation with the rest of our region and the world.
The only way towards regional peace, coexistence, and stability is through the implementation of international law and UN resolutions, leading to an end of over half a century of systematic violations and crimes committed by Israel, the occupying power, against the land and people of Palestine