On Tuesday Palestinians in the Gaza Strip cursed at Arab officials and burned placards of President Donald Trump in protest of the administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” summit in Bahrain to discuss economic aspects of the long-awaited “deal of the century.”
Shops, banks, and restaurants also shuttered their doors as part of a general strike.
The conference, led by the president’s son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner is taking place in Manama on June 25 and 26. The Palestinian leadership boycotted the conference, although a delegation of Palestinian businessmen from the West Bank are attending. Israel did not participate in the event.
The plan proposed a $50 billion investment fund, which would be divided between Palestinians in the occupied territories (more than half of the total amount) and its neighbors Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.
The fund will be used for 179 infrastructure and business projects, including building up the Palestinians’ tourism sector.
Palestinians in Gaza said that without a commitment for ending the occupation and the return of Palestinian refugees, the Bahrain workshop promises economic development without political freedom.
In Rafah, in the south of Gaza, Musa Hamdan, 86, told Mondoweiss, “The whole deal is nonsense.”
Hamdan is a refugee. He is originally from Yibna, a Palestinian village destroyed by Israeli forces in June 1948. As a child he fled to Gaza. “I still remember a scene of dozens of corpses of Egyptian soldiers who were dumped in Ashdod.”
Others worry the plan will allow Israel to continue its occupation indefinitely over the Gaza Strip, West Bank and East Jerusalem. Many termed the plan a “new Oslo,” referencing the over two-decade old peace agreement that is widely regarded locally as failing to achieve Palestinian statehood.
Yasmin Abu Arafa, 31, demonstrated against the workshop at the square of the Unknown Soldier in Gaza City. Stepping on both Israeli and American flags, she said: “After long years of struggle and fighting, a new Oslo seems to be imposed upon us by the U.S. But this will not happen again as in 1993.”
She denounced participation in the summit from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. She chanted Arab leaders “went to Bahrain to sell Palestine” and called the U.S. delegation the “pilgrims of the White House” who are “protectors of the occupiers.”
“Palestine is not for sale… It has indigenous owners,” she said.
“[O]ur issue is a political issue, not a public auction for pimps,” she told Mondoweiss. “I challenge you to find a single Palestinian who would barter prosperity in exchange for liberation.”
Muna Basel, 34, an unemployed business graduate, was at the impromptu protest. Handing out sun hats she said of the leaders from the Gulf countries present in Manama, “They forget that we are not goods to be purchased, the Palestinians alone decide their future and the suitable way to return our stolen lands.”
“And,” she said, “being a poor country is not shameful.”
Palestinians also protested near the Erez checkpoint, the northern crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israel. Protesters clashed with Israeli forces. Gaza’s Ministry of Health reported five injuries.