Palestinians slam U.S. announcement to hold conference on Gaza crisis

Saeb Erekat Palestinian chief negotiator and secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)

GAZA/RAMALLAH, March 11 (Xinhua) — Palestinians slammed Sunday the White House announcement to host a donor conference next Tuesday over the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, saying it should be dealt with as a political affair.

Member of Palestine Liberation Organization Ahmad Majdlani said that the Gaza Strip issue is political in the first stance and not a humanitarian or relief, and Washington knows well that the reasons behind the coastal enclave are tied to the Israeli blockade.

“The situation in Gaza requires political processing before being dealt with as a humanitarian case as Washington promotes,” said Majdalani, and that the U.S. conference is “part of the liquidation project aiming at detaching the Gaza Strip from the West Bank and eliminating the possibility of establishing the Palestinian state on the borders of 1967.”

The Washington Post reported last Thursday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt said the White House will hold a conference this week to look into saving the situation in Gaza.

Greenblatt reportedly said that the conference will focus on ideas to enhance the Gaza Strip’s economy and living conditions, and urged Islamic Hamas movement running the coastal enclave since 2007 to give up armed resistance and commit to peace negotiations.

Hamas movement spokesperson Hazem Qasem denounced the White House conference. He told Xinhua that Hamas “rejects the U.S. conditions and will not concede to U.S. administration’s blackmail against the movement no matter what difficulties come in its way.”

Top official of the left wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine Kayed Al-ghoul told Xinhua that the White House “is aiming at reestablishing the U.S. role in managing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by its various dimensions,” and added that “Washington wants to use the conference as a blackmail tool against the Palestinian Authority and Hamas to make the Palestinians accept the liquidation project of the century deal.”

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad movement spokesperson Dawood Shihab also warned against the conference, saying that the White House conference aims “to make the Gaza affair a humanitarian file in order to … lift the obligation of the Israeli occupation.”

The ties between Palestine and the United States have been witnessing rising tensions since last October, and peaked when U.S. President Donald Trump recognized on Dec. 6, 2017 Jerusalem as a capital of Israel and ordered the moving of the U.S. embassy to the city.

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