BY Dr Amira Abo el-Fetouh
They call it the Manama workshop, and it is titled “Peace for Prosperity”. It is due to be held in Bahrain on June 25 and 26 and will be attended by representatives for the world governments and finance ministers. It will include Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, according to Israeli media. The workshop will present investment ideas and opportunities in the region to businesspeople and investors from Arab countries as well as from countries around the world for them to contribute to the economic side of the American peace plan known as the deal of the century. The workshop also aims to encourage attendees to invest in the Palestinian territories and mobilise regional and international support to increase the economic investments that could be offered by the awaited American peace plan, which is expected to be announced in the coming months.
First of all, I am wondering why it is being called a workshop, not a conference. Is this part of the misguidance and deception scheme they have been plotting since they announced the shameful deal of the century? Or is it because they are too ashamed to officially announce the normalised relations between the Arab and Israeli governments and the liquidation of the Palestinian cause? However, this shame has wholly faded in recent years, since Donald Trump took office in the US, and everything has been out in the open rather than under the table, not directly stated by leaders. We are in a time of exposure and revelation of all those who plotted and conspired against Palestine and the entire Arab nation. All the masks have been removed, and everyone’s real face has been exposed, without any makeup or beautification. This may have been the only benefit we gained from this painful time in our nation’s history!
We must go back and examine the essence of the deal of the century to understand why the Manama Workshop will be held and why it was decided that Bahrain would host it? The answer to this question could be taken directly from the mouth of the political analyst for Israel’s Channel 13, Barak Ravid, who said that the reason Bahrain was chosen was due to the close ties between Israel and Bahrain, that developed considerably recently.
This cursed deal aims to end the conflict between the Arabs and Israel without resolving the conflict itself and reaching a fair solution. To achieve this, normalisation must be established between the Arabs and Israeli enemy using financial bribes in the form of economic investments and deals in the occupied Palestinians territories that would raise the low economic level and living standards of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. These citizens are suffering from financial hardships imposed on them by the Israeli enemy. Hence, the Israelis have replaced the political aspect of the Palestinian cause with the economic aspect, i.e. trading in the political path for economic development and financial path for the Palestinians. This is the main aim in the American peace plan, as they believe that this money, which will be Gulf money, will blind the Palestinians and make them lose their minds. They also think that it will tempt the countries hosting Palestinian refugees to settle them in their county as an alternative homeland, thus altogether cancelling the right of return. We must keep in mind that last year, Trump decided to cut all funding to the UNRWA and asked other countries to also cut their aid to the organisation specialising in refugee affairs in their miserable camps, including food, education, health, etc.
To understand the importance of this organisation and the role it is tasked with, we must go back to its founding. The UNRWA was established in 1948, i.e. after the Nakba and the expulsion of at least 800,000 Palestinians from Palestine. The label “refugees” applies to the Palestinians who left Palestine in 1948, including their children and grandchildren, whose numbers now reach about 5.4 million according to UNRWA statistics. The American administration considers this to be the most significant obstacles hindering alleged peace between the Palestinians and Israel. This is why Washington began accusing the organisation of corruption, while Netanyahu called for the shutdown of the UNRWA and claimed the agency was reinforcing the Palestinian refugee problem. He also claimed it was exaggerating the number of refugees.
Meanwhile, UNRWA Director in Gaza, Matthias Schmale, warned that the decision to cut funding to the agency would lead to the deterioration of the Palestinian refugees’ humanitarian situation. He also called on decision-makers to fund the organisation and separate political issues from humanitarian issues. Schmale believes that Trump’s decision was punishment for the Palestinians for rejecting his decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and moving the American embassy to Jerusalem. It is worth noting that the US contributes about $350 million a year in aid to the agency and is the biggest funder of the agency, which has a total budget of $1.2 billion. This may cause us to wonder what this small amount represents for the wealthiest countries in the world and its value compared to the $600 billion Saudi Arabia pumped into the US Treasury during his visit to Saudi Arabia?
These were the first measures taken in the context of this bad deal. The purpose of Trump’s decision was to end to the refugees’ issue, which is the most complicated and complex issue on the negotiations table, thus removing the “right of return” file from the negotiations. Hence, the Zionist, Jared Kushner, Trump’s son in law and advisor, tasked with the Palestinian-Israeli issue, seeks to eliminate the UNRWA and strip the Palestinians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip of refugee status, thus reducing the 5.4 million refugees registered in the UN records, to less than 500,000 refugees. This is where the idea to resettle Palestinian refugees in surrounding Arab countries, which is actually an old idea that dates back to the 1950s but was completely rejected by the Arab countries in the past to preserve the Palestinian identity. Therefore, these countries did not give refugees citizenship in the countries they resided in and instead considered them guests in their country to preserve the right of return. This decision was made by the Arab League when it was still alive!
We cannot separate all of this from the law issued by Israel last year, called the Nation-State Law, which showed Israel’s ugly racist fact. This law declared Palestine a state and homeland for the Jewish people alone and asserted the right to self-determination as the right of the Jewish people alone. The law made Hebrew the only official language in the country and made the Arabs a minority. Hence, it forces the Arabs in Palestine to choose between two options: either leave the country or accept being lesser than and become a minority that does not have the right to demand citizenship and equal rights. This reinforces the great lie promoted by the Zionists for a century, that Palestine is the land of the Jewish people alone, the Promised Land granted to them by God and therefore they cannot let it go. It also means that the Palestinian presence in the country has been in the form of occupation and that the war in 1948 was a war of liberation from the Palestinian occupier. It would also mean that the land they are building settlements on in Jerusalem and the West Bank is not occupation, but expansion in the Israeli state. Therefore, the law stipulated that “the state views the development of Jewish settlement as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment and consolidation” and that immediate citizenship is granted only to Jews.
Netanyahu supported the law, as he told the Knesset after it passed the law, “This is a defining moment in the history of Zionism and the history of the state of Israel… 122 years after Herzl (founder of the Zionist project) published his vision of a Jewish state, we have stated by law the basic principle of our existence.”
This would mean the complete elimination of the right of return, and therefore, the US quickly welcomed and supported this heinous racist law. The US had already recognised the Israeli settlements built in the West Bank, which houses about 650,000 Jews. The deal of the century aims to raise the number of settlers to 1.5 million by establishing new settlements. The US has even called on other countries to recognise them.
All of the measures taken by both the US and Israel, beginning with the recognition of Jerusalem as the unified capital of Israel to the decision to the annexation of the Golan Heights to Israel and the nation-state law, have all been preliminary steps paving the way to implementing the deal of the century, which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause.
The Manama workshop came to culminate this deal with the economic aspect and swallow the political aspect which is scheduled to be announced in the future. Regardless of the unannounced details, which we have heard nothing about except through leaks in the media from time to time, the deal reinforcing the Israeli occupation in Palestine and eliminates the rights of the Palestinians. No free Palestinian or Arab would accept this deal, as there is no way that the economic aspect can be achieved at the expense of their national project and the restoration of their right to establish an independent state. Instead, the political element must come before the economic aspect, and the economic projects, investments, and prosperity for the Palestinians must stem from it.
This reminds me of the words of the late poet Amal Donqol, in his poem “Do not reconcile”, in which he says, “Do not reconcile/even if they give you gold. I wonder/if I were to gouge out your eyes/and replace them with two gems/would you see? These things are priceless.”
This is what the US does not understand. It is convinced that the Palestinians would be happy with economic incentives as an alternative to the independent state they are demanding as a condition for any lasting peace negotiations with Israel.
The Manama workshop has fallen into the quagmire of shame and disgrace, and it will never escape it. The bad deal of the century will not be passed, as the nation still has a pulse and refuses to concede historical Palestine. The resistance in Gaza has bared its teeth and will not concede or compromise in the matter of its homeland Palestine. Peace will not be achieved without the Palestinians receiving all of their rights and the establishment of a free independent state.
Source: Middle East Monitor