China, Russia to boycott US-sponsored Manama meeting: WAFA

Chinese Ambassador to Palestine Guo Wei said his country, along with Russia, would not participate in a US-sponsored meeting in Bahrain slated for June 25 and 26, according to Palestine’s WAFA news agency.

Wei reportedly made the remarks at a meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Nabil Shaath, a top adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Boycotting the Bahrain conference comes within the framework of a bilateral Russian-Chinese agreement not to participate in it,” WAFA quoted Wei as saying.

According to the news agency, Wei had stressed Beijing’s position “in support of the Palestinian cause and people, including their right to self-determination and the establishment of an independent state of Palestine within the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem [Al-Quds] as its capital.”

Early last week, the US announced plans to hold a landmark conference in Manama, where the US officials are expected to unveil economic aspects of the “Deal of the Century”, a US backchannel Palestine-Israel peace plan the terms of which have yet to be made public. The conference has been designed to draw investment to the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The Manama meeting will reportedly be chaired by Jared Kushner, the US president’s senior advisor and son-in-law, and Jason Greenblatt, Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy.

Along with host Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have both announced their intention to send representatives to the event.

The meeting is expected to be attended by a host of finance officials and business leaders from several countries.

Palestinian officials will not attend the conference. Last Thursday, Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Executive Committee, announced that Palestine would not take part in the US-led conference.

The PLO said it was never consulted about the planned meeting and has stated its refusal to take part in the event.

“There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop,” Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani, who is also a member of the Executive Committee of the PLO, told Reuters last week.

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said the meeting would not address the core political issues of the conflict, reported.

“Any solution to the conflict in Palestine must be political … and based on ending the occupation,” he said.

Ever since Trump’s controversial decision to recognize Al-Quds as Israel’s capital in late 2017, the Palestinian leadership has rejected all US peacemaking efforts.

Shtayyeh reiterated Palestinians’ core demands, which include gaining full control of the occupied West Bank and Gaza, as well as East Al-Quds. Israel calls Al-Quds its indivisible capital and said it might declare sovereignty in its West Bank settlements.

Around 600,000 Israelis live in settlements in the occupied West Bank. Israel has controlled the West Bank since seizing it in a 1967 war.

Palestinians also demand an end to Israel’s 12-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

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