Bahrain is set to be the center of the Middle East on June 25-26 when the country’s capital, Manama, hosts an economic investment conference intended to inject wealth into the Palestinian economy and lay the foundation for President Donald Trump’s upcoming “deal of the century” proposal between Israel and the Palestinians. The Bahraini “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop announced on May 19 is a dual effort between the U.S. and Bahrain to “galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives” and “facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region.”
Participating countries include Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and a large contingent of the Gulf Cooperation Council — Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. Global powers Russia and China will not partake in the conference. Israel is yet to be formally invited to the summit, with senior adviser Jared Kushner reportedly delaying an official invitation until the list of Arab states in attendance is finalized.
Notably boycotting the workshop is the Palestinian Authority, which, despite being the focal point and ultimate beneficiaries of the event, rejects the legitimacy of the conference because “Palestine’s full economic potential can only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation,” according to Dr. Saeb Erekat, a Palestine Liberation Organization diplomat. Various Palestinian trade organizations — accounting for nearly 80% of the Palestinian GDP — have likewise declined invitations to attend, similarly objecting due to the lack of promise of “freedom and sovereignty for Palestinians.”
The Palestinian leadership and major trade organizations are outright refusing to even entertain an influx of wealth into their impoverished land — as though a revitalized economy is a detriment to the well-being of the Palestinian people. Given the utter impossibility of the Palestinians’ demand of full control over all of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea, the unwillingness of the Palestinian leadership to hear out the economic plan at the summit appears to be deeply cynical.
What government would blatantly reject a plan intended to augment the country’s economic standing? None, excepting the Palestinian leadership, because to do so is possibly the most obvious disservice to Palestinian denizens and industry alike. Yet for the Palestinians, this is part of a much larger play.
The Palestinian “struggle,” which has garnered so much favor among mainstream media and international supporters, thrives exclusively on the plight of the Palestinians and the intense suffering that continues to be passed off as an outcome of alleged Israeli interventionism and discrimination. To the Palestinian leadership, a revitalized economy and regional stability would run wholly counter to the messages of despair at the hands of Israelis, and would distract from their prime objective of the destruction of Israel altogether. As evidenced by their attempt to block the summit, the Palestinian government does not strive for a better society. Instead, the Palestinian government mobilizes its populace and the international community against Israel — at Palestinians’ own expense.
Due to this, terrorism in Palestinian society is incentivized instead of the promotion of beneficial public works programs. Anti-Semitism, furthermore, is a state-sponsored cause. Rather than fund secular schooling for Palestinians, the Palestinian Authority commits significant resources to the delegitimization of Israel in school settings. Only 7% of photographs in Palestinian textbooks recognize any Israeli claim to territory. A U.S. State Department-funded study revealed that 87% of Palestinian books depict Israel and Israelis in a negative characterization, and almost all — excepting a singular instance — depict Judaism in a negative light. The Palestinian education system demonstrates another facet of its over-arching hatred and incompetence: Educational advancement is sacrificed for indoctrination and hatred.
The Palestinian Authority also directly funds terrorist activities and diverts sizable quantities of funds from beneficial government activities in order to do so. In March 2018, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas approved the allocation of $360 million — 7% of the GDP of the government — towards the compensation of terrorists and families funneled through two government institutions: The Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Fund for Families of Martyrs and the Injured. Since 2013, these payments have in sum exceeded $1.5 billion. In 2017, these payments accounted for a whopping 49.6% of the foreign humanitarian aid received by the Palestinian Authority.
The persistent pattern of the Palestinian Authority to slander and physically harm Israelis has culminated in the outright rejection of the Bahrain summit. No proposal for peace or economic prosperity will satisfy the Palestinian leadership. Ideals of rejectionism and confrontation with Israelis are so firmly engrained in Palestinian society, reaching children in schools and accounting for immense amounts of the national economy. The fundamental fault for a continued conflict lies not with Israel or with any particular United States plan, but with a culture of bigotry and state-sponsored incitement adopted by the Palestinians.