Palestine says won’t attend US’ conference in Poland
Palestine says despite having received an invitation, it will not take part in a US-sponsored conference on the Middle East slated to be hosted by Poland next week.
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"Regarding statements that we have been invited, we can say that only today there was some contact from the Polish side," chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in a Friday tweet.
"Our position remains clear: We are not going to attend this conference and reiterate that we have not mandated anyone to talk on behalf of Palestine,” said Erekat, who is also the Secretary General of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
In a separate tweet, Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, also rejected the invitation, saying only the PLO could speak on behalf of the Palestinian people.
The comments came a day after a US official said the Palestinians had been invited to the Warsaw conference, which he described as "a discussion" rather than "a negotiation."
Earlier on Thursday, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry branded the joint US-Polish conference as “an American conspiracy intended to get the participants to adopt the US views on issues of the region, particularly the Palestine issue.”
The international gathering will take place in the Polish capital from February 13 to 14, the US State Department announced last month, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claiming at the time the gathering would focus on “stability and peace, freedom and security” in the Middle East.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry’s statement further stressed that the Palestinians would ignore all conclusions of the conference, criticizing US President Donald Trump for hailing the relocation of his country's embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem al-Quds in his state of the Union address on Tuesday.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Pompeo as well as Trump’s senior advisers Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt are among those expected to attend the Warsaw conference.
In late February, Kushner and Greenblatt are scheduled to travel to at least five Arab countries to “brief diplomats on the economic portion” of the US’ so-called peace proposal for the Middle East and seek their support, officials said on Thursday.
The two advisers plan stops in Oman, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar on their week-long trip, two senior White House officials said. They may reportedly add two other countries to their itinerary.
Ties between the US and the Palestinian Authority took an unprecedented dip in late 2017, when Washington recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as the “capital” of the Israeli regime.
Ever since, Palestinian President Mohammed Abbas has refused to talk about any peace plan with the United States in the wake of Trump's embassy move, but White House officials hope that will change.
"We hope Abbas reads the plan, judges it on its merits, and comes to the table for negotiations after we release the plan," one official was quoted as saying Friday.
A top Palestinian official said Wednesday the Palestinian Authority will keep an open mind about Trump’s so-called peace plan if it meets all its demands, even if the US president doesn’t explicitly revoke his recognition of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.
If the US plan backs a Palestinian state in the pre-1967 boundaries, with its capital in East Jerusalem al-Quds, “we are ready to sit at the table and negotiate immediately,” Information Minister and presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh told foreign journalists in Ramallah, Bloomberg reported.
Those moves have made it impossible for Palestinians to accept the US as the sole peace broker, Abu Rudeineh said, calling instead for a bloc of world powers -- similar to the one that negotiated the 2015 Iran nuclear deal -- to sponsor the peace process.