Palestinian chief negotiator urges Arabs to reconsider attending Bahrain workshop

Saeb Erekat, secretary of the PLO’s executive committee. (AFP file photo)
Updated 26 May 2019

Palestinian chief negotiator urges Arabs to reconsider attending Bahrain workshop

  • The US-Bahraini economic workshop is scheduled in Bahrain on June 25 and 26
  • Palestinian leaders see the workshop as a move to circumvent Palestinian national aspirations

AMMAN: The secretary of the PLO’s executive committee, Saeb Erekat, called on Arab states that have committed to attend the Bahrain economic “workshop” to revisit their decision. 

In an interview with Arab News, Erekat praised Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the cause of Palestine. “In every important decision, Saudi Arabia stood with the people of Palestine,” Erekat said.

The chief Palestinian negotiator noted that all Arabs have made a commitment that they will accept whatever Palestinians accept. “We call on the countries that have agreed to attend the Bahrain workshop to reevaluate their decision,” he said.

Erekat noted that Saudi Arabia has been the most diligent country in supporting the Palestinian government. “The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia doesn’t miss its monthly support to the Palestinian government. Saudi Arabia doesn’t need an economic conference to financially support Palestinians,” he told Arab news.

Erekat spoke forcefully on this issue in an exclusive interview on the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya satellite TV.

The Palestinian position is that the US-backed economic workshop is aimed at circumventing Palestinian national aspirations. “We started with land for peace and now we are talking about prosperity for peace,” Erekat was quoted as saying by various Qatari owned media outlets.

Despite this, Qatar is confirmed to attend the Bahrain conference according to exclusive information obtained by Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.

The US-Bahraini economic workshop is scheduled in Manama, Bahrain June 25 and 26.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar have publicly declared that they will attend, along with the Bahraini hosts. Finance ministers from Arab and foreign countries have been invited. Palestinian officials and leading Palestinian business have said they will not attend.

The Trump peace team, headed by the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and chief Middle East advisor Jason Greenblatt, were expected to announce their joint political and economic plans after the holy month of Ramadan but the plan was replaced by an economic workshop in Bahrain.

 

 


Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

Updated 18 August 2019

Family backs Tlaib’s decision not to visit Israel

  • Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel

RAMALLAH: Relatives of a US congresswoman say they support her decision to decline Israel’s offer allowing her to visit them in the West Bank because the “right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions.”

Rashida Tlaib said she would not see her family, even after Israel lifted a ban on her entry, because the government had imposed restrictions on her trip.

“We totally understand her position and support her in her efforts. The right to travel should be provided to all without any conditions,” her uncle Bassam Tlaib told Arab News.

He was speaking from the family home in Beit Ur Al-Fuka, which is 3 km from the West Bank city of Ramallah, and was flanked by his elderly mother.

He said his niece had visited them many times in the past, but there had never been any conditions attached to her travel.

“She said we will meet when she can come without conditions,” Tlaib said. “One idea has been floated of flying the grandmother to the US or finding a way to have the two meetings in a third country. You know my mother is nearing 90 and it is not easy for her to travel but we are checking out all options.”

Tlaib, a Democrat, has criticized Israel’s policy toward Palestinians and had planned to make an official visit to the country.

Israel said a humanitarian travel request by Tlaib would be considered as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel, local media reported.

But the congresswoman, who is Palestinian-American, lashed out on social media.

“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother. “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The NGO hosting and organizing the trip, Miftah, has been criticized by supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Hanan Ashrawi, the NGO’s founder, said her staff had organized other congressional trips. “This was the third trip we have organized, and we try to do our work professionally and seriously,” Ashrawi told Arab News. “Our very mission is to promote global dialogue and democracy.”

Ashrawi said the attacks on Miftah were unwarranted.  “Miftah has been targeted with the expressed goal of trying to discredit us even though our record is clear. We believe that they are trying to keep organizing congressional delegations within the AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) monopoly, while we are trying to provide visitors with an opportunity to learn about Palestinian life under occupation and to understand the Palestinian narrative by providing opportunities for delegations to see and engage with Palestinians of all walks of life.” 

Ashrawi said Miftah had been “vetted” by the US Congress’ ethics committee. “We might not be able to bring hundreds of congress people like AIPAC, but we can bring a few and have them see, hear and interact with Palestinians.”

US President Donald Trump had called on Israel not to allow Tlaib and fellow congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel as admitting the two “would show great weakness.”

He tweeted that the pair “hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace.”