This week, the U.S. held its “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain, to promote investment in the Palestinian economy and across the Middle East. Welcomed by Israel, boycotted by the Palestinians, the conference was attended by officials and business leaders from around the world.
Palestinian leaders’ refusal to cooperate with the U.S., Israel and the international community continues to worsen the situation on the ground and prevents the Palestinian people from achieving their political aspirations. The Palestinian Authority must reverse its strategy of rejectionism and instead work to achieve peace with Israel.
Palestinian leaders have a unique opportunity to help their people.
The Peace to Prosperity plan presents a number of policy proposals that could improve the quality of life, create jobs and provide economic stability for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The $50 billion economic stimulus plan aims to create a million new jobs in 10 years, slash unemployment and improve living standards in the West Bank, Gaza and across the Middle East.
Its full implementation is dependent on achieving a durable peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.
The Palestinians once again reject an opportunity for peace and prosperity.
Despite support from the Arab world, Palestinians boycotted the conference aimed at benefiting the Palestinian economy.
Palestinian leaders have rejected multiple offers for an independent Palestinian state that would have resolved the conflict and improved the wellbeing of the Palestinian people. • Palestinian rejections of peace overtures—even those backed by Arab states—and their continued refusal to meet with U.S. and Israeli officials makes the vision of two states less likely to be realized.
Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said that the Palestinians made a mistake by not showing up to the conference.
“It is always a mistake to miss an opportunity to achieve peace. …This was an opportunity that we wanted to see them here, but they chose not to come,” he said on Wednesday, in his first-ever interview with an Israeli journalist.
The Bahrain conference is a step toward normalization and recognition of Israel in the region.
That Bahrain—an Arab country with no political ties with Israel— hosted the conference indicates a dramatic shift in the regional attitude toward the Jewish state.
The attendance of other Arab countries—including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE—further illustrates these countries’ recognition of Israel as a permanent fixture and potential partner in the Middle East.
“Israel is a country in the Middle East. Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region historically. So the Jewish people have a place amongst us. So communication needs to be a prerequisite for solving all the dispute. We should talk,” Bahrain’s foreign minister also said.
The United States should urge Palestinian leaders to end their rejectionism and engage in direct, bilateral negotiations with Israel.
The path laid forward at the Bahrain conference presents a unique opportunity for Palestinian leaders to improve the lives of the Palestinian people.
This ongoing conflict has seized hope and opportunity from too many. We urge the Palestinian leadership to end their regrettable boycott of American and Israeli officials, join the Arab world in being open to these economic opportunities, and return to direct talks with Israel to bring their people a brighter future.