Palestinian PM criticizes U.S.-sponsored Bahrain economic workshop

Palestinian PM criticizes U.S.-sponsored Bahrain economic workshop

RAMALLAH (Rahnuma): Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Ishtaye slammed on Monday the U.S.-sponsored economic workshop to be held in Bahrain, saying it will be futile.

Speaking at the opening of the weekly cabinet meeting held in West Bank’s Ramallah city, Ishtaye said Palestine’s boycott of the workshop makes it an illegitimate event.

He stressed that the solution to the Palestinian issue is political and comes through ending the Israeli occupation and enabling the Palestinians to have control over their natural resources that would help them build a strong and independent economy.

“Peace and prosperity of the Palestinian people must be achieved by calling on Israel to stop the theft of our land, piracy of our assets and seizure of our natural resources, and to end its occupation, stop the settlements and lift the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” said the prime minister.

He said Israel’s withholding of Palestinian tax revenues has put the Palestinian Authority (PA) in a difficult financial situation, reiterating that Palestinian will not receive the clearance funds if any amount was deducted from it.

His comments came in reference to millions of U.S. dollars that have been deducted by Israel from the Palestinian tax revenues it collects on their behalf, saying it was money paid to families of Palestinian prisoners and those killed or wounded by Israelis.

“We are looking for solutions and we have some plans, but the ultimate solution is for Israel to return our money in full,” he said.

He expressed hope that the Arab financial safety net would come into effect.

The government of Bahrain and the U.S. will organize the “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop in Bahrain’s capital Manama June 25-26. Both parties said the workshop would bring together finance ministers rather than foreign ministers to meet with business people.

Palestinians immediately opposed the idea of holding the conference and said they were not even consulted on it.

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