Gaza Announces General Strike in Protest Over Bahrain Economic Summit

Protests underway in the Strip and in the West Bank in response to the release of the economic section of the American peace proposal

Palestinian women burning representations of Israeli and U.S. flags at a protest against the Bahrain workshop for Mideast peace, southern Gaza Strip, June 18, 2019.

A general strike was declared in the Gaza Strip in protest at the U.S.-sponsored economic summit in Bahrain, which began Tuesday as part of the Trump administration's effort to foster peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 12 people were wounded, three of them from live fire and the others by rubber bullets, during protests against the summit. 

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In the West Bank city of Hebron on Monday, Palestinians held protest gatherings and marches, which are expected to continue through Wednesday. There were also clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops in the city and, according to Palestinian reports, dozens of demonstrators were injured from tear gas inhalation.

The Bahrain conference is taking place without the official presence of representatives from the Palestinian Authority, who are boycotting it. The Israeli government is also not officially represented after the White House declared that it wished to keep the gathering apolitical.

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The Trump administration's $50 billion economic plan calls for creation of an investment fund to boost the Palestinian economy and that are neighboring Arab countries. It includes the creation of a corridor connecting the West Bank and Gaza via Israel.

In comments at a meeting of the Palestinian cabinet in Ramallah on Monday, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh called the Bahrain conference "pathetic" and said its results would be impossible to implement. The Palestinian leadership's decision not to participate in the gathering has deprived the gathering of legitimacy, he added.

The economic plan that the Trump administration released on Saturday is to be followed later by a political proposal to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. For his part, however, Shtayyeh complained that the details released so far don't relate to Palestinian sovereignty. "Anyone wishing to achieve peace and prosperity for the Palestinian people needs to act vis-à-vis Israel to halt the theft of our land and money and to bring about the end of the occupation," he said.