Palestinian officials Thursday dismissed the Bahrain conference led by "amateurs" like U.S. President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as they opened two days of talks on Jerusalem's future at the U.N.
The meeting at the U.N.'s European headquarters lacked the fanfare and multibillion dollar economic plans that accompanied the Bahrain talks spearheaded this week by Kushner. The Geneva meeting, called the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem, was convened by the U.N.'s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.
Palestinian leaders sought to portray the meeting as a counterpoint to the "Peace to Prosperity" conference in Bahrain, boycotted by the Palestinians who accused the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of dangling the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions. Blasting "the amateurs of political activities like Kushner," the Palestinian Authority's Social Affairs Minister Ahmad Majdalani called the Bahrain talks a "resounding failure" in his opening remarks.
Palestine's President Mahmoud Abbas also reiterated the importance of a political solution that should come first for lasting peace in the Middle East. Reiterating Palestinian's stance towards the conference in Manama, Abbas said, "The national rights are not real estate that is bought and sold."
"The decisions taken by the U.S. have proved its ineligibility to take care alone of the peace process," Abbas said. "It [the U.S.] has encouraged the occupation government to consider Jerusalem as its capital, to annex the Golan Heights and to hint at the annexation of parts of the [occupied] West Bank in an attempt to impose a fait accompli by force, the thing that we and the whole world have rejected," he added.
The Palestinians and many other Arabs dismissed Kushner's plan as pointless without a political solution based on the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" peace plan has yet to be revealed in full, however, based on leaks in the media it envisages making major concessions to Israel. Fundamental political issues, such as the status of Jerusalem city and rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in historical Palestine, were not mentioned in the plan. Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Middle East dispute, with Palestinians hoping that East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel since 1967, might one day serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.
Palestinians have so far denounced Trump's peace efforts last year as the U.S. recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel's capital, along with the cancellation of hundreds of millions of dollars in American aid to the Palestinians, have prompted the Palestinians to cut off ties with the White House. Palestinian officials have ruled out a role for the U.S. in peace talks.