Palestinians Will Not Attend U.S. Mideast Peace Conference, PLO Says

'Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation,' top Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat charges

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, right, and secretary general of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Saeb Erekat, attend the the 30th Arab Summit in Tunis, Tunisia, March 31, 2019.
Fethi Belaid,AP

Palestinian officials will not be attending the U.S.-led Middle East peace conference slated to be held in Bahrain this June, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) announced in an official statement Wednesday night.

"This is an official announcement that Palestine will not attend the Manama meeting," a statement by chief Palestinian negotiator Dr. Saeb Erekat said.

"This is a collective Palestinian position, from President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee to all Palestinian political movements and factions, national figures, private sector and civil society. We reiterate that we did not mandate anyone to negotiate on our behalf."

The statement continues, "Those concerned and want to serve the interest of the Palestinian people should respect this collective position. Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation, respecting international law and UN resolutions."

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Palestinian officials have said that the Palestinian Authority would not take part in the conference, in which the economic aspects of U.S. President Donald Trump's peace plan will be revealed, although no official statement had been made.

The plan envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries, in the Palestinian territories.

But officials say the conference will not include the core political issues of the conflict: final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees or Israeli security demands.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said Monday that neither he nor any other member of the Palestinian leadership was consulted regarding the financial summit.

Shtayyeh also noted that a financial solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict ought to come as a result of a political solution. He said that the financial crisis in the Strip is a result of a campaign to blackmail the Palestinian leadership and pressure it ahead of the publication of Trump's plan.

The Palestinian prime minister also said that the Palestinian leadership will not agree for any formula that would improve civilian life in Gaza but maintain the Israeli occupation. 

Other members of the Palestinian leadership view the Palestinian boycott as a strategic and public relations misstep. Palestinian National Council member and former Minister Nabil Amro told Haaretz that given the current political situation, the Palestinians must take advantage of the international opportunity before them to present their position - without compromising on their principles.

"I know it's not easy for [Palestinian President Mahmoud] Abbas or any other official to be there," Amro said, "but we cannot miss an opportunity to protest."