White House hosts meeting on Gaza without UNRWA, Palestinians present

DAILY SABAH WITH WIRES
ISTANBUL
Published
emReuters File Photo/em
Reuters File Photo

The White House hosted 19 nations on Tuesday, including Israel and the Arab Gulf states, to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, but without the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

As the PA boycotted the conference at the White House, UNRWA, the largest humanitarian and development actor operating in the Gaza Strip, were not invited by the White House, the chairman emeritus of the UNRWA, Philip C. Wilcox Jr. wrote to the Washington Post.

U.S. media reports said the conference Tuesday had been convened in Washington and attended by representatives of 19 nations, including representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several European nations. The format did not allow for direct discussions between Israel and the Arab states, officials said. However, the Palestinian Authority refused to attend the meeting due to the Donald Trump administration's policy regarding Jerusalem.

U.S. media reports said the conference Tuesday had been convened in Washington and attended by representatives of 19 nations, including representatives from Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several European nations. The format did not allow for direct discussions between Israel and the Arab states, officials said. However, the Palestinian Authority refused to attend the meeting due to the Donald Trump administration's policy regarding Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have essentially cut off ties to the White House, furious over Trump's move last year to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. For that reason, the Palestinians boycotted the meeting, a decision that drew expressions of regret from Greenblatt and other U.S. officials.

A senior Palestinian official on Tuesday objected to President Donald Trump's suggestion that the Palestinians have walked away from peace negotiations, saying U.S. policies in favor of Israel have pushed the Palestinians away from any future process.

Mohammed Ishtayeh, a top adviser to President Mahmoud Abbas, said a series of U.S. steps have harmed the climate ahead of an expected peace proposal by the White House. "When ... President Trump says the Palestinians are running away from the negotiating table, which negotiating table?" Ishtayeh told foreign journalists, according to AP. "Since he came to power, there have been no negotiations whatsoever."

"If you are really preparing something as an honest broker, why is it that you are taking measures against one of the parties in favor of the other party?" he asked. "This is something that really needs to be explained."

On Dec. 6, Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, triggering world outcry and protests across the Palestinian territories.

Following the decision, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had said his country would not accept a future role for the U.S. in the Middle East peace process.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Middle East conflict, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

Home to some two million people, the Gaza Strip has groaned beneath a crippling Israeli/Egyptian embargo first imposed in 2007 after Hamas wrested control of the coastal enclave from forces loyal to the PA.

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