Palestinians Protest US-Led Bahrain Economic ‘Workshop of Shame’
“Those who conspire against our inalienable legitimate Palestinian rights will definitely fail. We will one day return back to our homeland, whether they agree or disagree,” Abu Qinas, a Palestinian protester, told Citizen Truth.
Palestinians in both Gaza Strip and the West Bank rejected a U.S.-sponsored economic workshop held in the Arab Gulf state of Bahrain. The two-day workshop kicked off Tuesday and is set to discuss opportunities for economic prosperity in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Gaza Strip, which is one of the occupied Palestinian territories and home to 2 million residents, saw a general strike and held a national popular conference in protest of the Bahrain workshop.
In Gaza city, protesters chanted anti-Bahrain workshop slogans, condemned the workshop and slammed U.S. President Donald Trump. Among the chanted slogans were: “Down with the Bahrain workshop of shame”, “Down with Donald Trump, the tacky.”
Angry crowds in Gaza believe that the workshop in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama is actually a conspiracy against the Palestinian cause, hijacking the Palestinian people’s long-time aspirations of returning home.
Several thousand Palestinians including ordinary people, local community organizations, political factions and others gathered Tuesday afternoon at a national conference to protest the U.S.-led efforts. Palestinians accuse the U.S. of seeking economic solutions which preempt any political solutions for the Palestinian cause.
Enaam Abu Qinas is a Palestinian Gaza woman who participated in Tuesday’s demonstration in Gaza city.
“I myself from the Robeen village in Palestine. My grandparents and parents have told us about how beautiful Robeen was, as so many other historical Palestinian areas. I would like to tell all those conspiring right now, against the Palestinian people, that we will return back to Palestine, whether you agree or disagree,” Abu Qinas said angrily to Citizen Truth.
Another local Gaza resident, Mahmoud Alnamrouty, criticized Bahrain and other Arab countries.
“The Arab states, should instead, help restore the Palestinian legitimate rights and not to be a tool in the hands of U.S.A. for hijacking those Palestinian rights,” said Alnamrouty.
Among the conference participants were representatives of various local community-based organizations and syndicates. Rami Alshrafi, secretary of the Palestinian Journalist’s Syndicate in Gaza, decried the hosting by Manama of Israeli journalists for the economic workshop.
“At the syndicate level, we will publish a list of all those Arab journalists, who take any normalization moves with the occupation state of Israel. We will also publish a blacklist of all those Arab journalistic organizations or journalists, who host Israeli journalists,” Alshrafi told Citizen Truth.
All Gaza-based Palestinian political parties, including the rival Fatah and Hamas Parties, the Islamic Jihad and many other leftist factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization, delivered speeches during Tuesday’s conference. All of the parties rejected any economic plans for Palestinians – unless a political solution to the Palestinian cause is also addressed.
“Deal of the century will not pass and the Bahrain conference will not pass. We Palestinians are being shocked by Bahrain and some other Arab states,” Fayez Abueita, representative of the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told the few thousand attendees of the national popular conference against the Manama workshop.
Hamas and Fatah Unity?
Abdellatif Alqanou’, spokesperson for the ruling Hamas party in Gaza, told Citizen Truth that his party has called on the rival Fatah party for a meeting in Gaza or Cairo, in order to reach a long-protracted Palestinian unity.
“Hamas is ready to sit with President Abbas and the Fatah party for setting a unified national strategy to encounter the deal of the century. Yet, unfortunately, in a time we call for this, Abbas holds meetings with the chief of Israeli intelligence, the Shabak,” Alqanou’ said.
Both Hamas and Fatah have been divided since 2007 when Hamas took over Gaza and ousted the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority forces from Gaza.
The Islamic Jihad group, which is not represented in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that signed Oslo peace accords with Israel back in 1993, insisted that the Palestinian struggle will continue, by all means necessary.
“We assert on the continuation of our confrontation with the Israeli occupation and our rejection of all outcomes of the humiliating Bahrain workshop. First, the Palestine Liberation Organization should derecognize Israel, drop the Oslo accords and escalate our people’s resistance against the occupation, by all means possible at our disposal,” Albatch told Citizen Truth during the national popular conference.
‘Deal of the Century’
The Bahrain workshop is said to be the first stage of the long-awaited U.S.’ plan for peace between Palestinians and Israel. The plan is a vision of the Trump administration and is widely known as the “Deal of the Century.”
One component of the plan is a package of $50 U.S. billion dollars for economic development across the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip. However, the plan excludes the internationally-recognized occupied east Jerusalem and it does not refer to any political solution that would lead to a Palestinian state.
Human Rights Watch called the plan a “sideshow” and accused it of failing to address the issues that keep Palestinians “disempowered” and “unable to unlock their potential.”
“The plan fails to address the most significant barrier to economic development: Israeli abuses of Palestinians’ human rights. For example, it sets out to develop a “transportation corridor directly connecting the West Bank and Gaza through a major road and, potentially, a modern rail line.” But what good is a corridor when Israel imposes a travel ban on the 2 million Palestinians of Gaza that prevents nearly all of them from traveling – not only to the West Bank, but anywhere else? The problem is not a lack of roads, but Israeli and Egyptian restrictions on movement that have turned Gaza into an open-air prison. The heavy-handed tactics used by rival Palestinian authorities compounds the economic misery,” wrote Human Rights Watch.
Last May, the U.S. moved it’s embassy from Tel-Aviv to the occupied East Jerusalem and shut down the PLO’s representative office in Washington DC.
The American administration also cut off funding for the Palestinian Authority and stopped contributing funds to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees.
In response, the Palestinian Authority boycotted Washington D.C. which has sponsored the Palestinian-Israeli peace process for more than two decades now. The PA insists that it will only accept a two-state solution, with the occupied East Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine.