Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Gazans protest against Jared Kushner's plan for Palestinians

Palestinians say they cannot be bought off as their future is discussed in Bahrain

Head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, third from left, and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar raise their hands up with leaders of the other Palestinian factions as they attend a protest against the White House's long-awaited plan for Mideast peace, in Gaza City, Wednesday, June 26, 2019. AP
Head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, third from left, and Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar raise their hands up with leaders of the other Palestinian factions as they attend a protest against the White House's long-awaited plan for Mideast peace, in Gaza City, Wednesday, June 26, 2019. AP

Protesters in Gaza and the West Bank have voiced their opposition to the US-led economic plan detailed in Bahrain to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The second day of the Peace to Prosperity conference took place in Manama on Wednesday, after White House adviser Jared Kushner’s introduction to the economic portion of President Donald Trump’s long-awaited “deal of the century”.

In Gaza, shops and government offices were closed in a general strike, with hundreds of protesters demonstrating against what they saw as an attempt to usurp their birthrights.

"We are standing behind the Palestinian leaders to support them against any deal aimed at denying Palestinians their rights," protester Sameer Almamlok told The National.

The National Committee for the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, which since last March has been organising weekly protests against Israeli occupation, said: “Palestinian land is not for sale and our rights are not bargaining chips.

“Palestinian resistance will continue until the Israeli occupation ends."

Protesters gathered near the Erez border crossing in the north of the Gaza Strip came under Israeli gunfire.

The enclave’s Health Ministry reported 12 protesters were wounded, including three from gunshots.

Since the protests began last year, 306 Gazans have been killed and 17,600 wounded.

Hundreds more protesters gathered in Gaza City outside the headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, waving flags and holding signs denouncing the conference in Bahrain.

Senior Hamas leaders Ismail Hania and Yahai Sinwar attended alongside leaders of other Palestinian factions.

"We are continuing our resistance to the 'deal of the century' and the Bahrain conference," said Abdul Latif Qanoua, a Hamas spokesman.

"Our nation is united with all of its political factions to stand in front this conference."

Palestinians are particularly aggrieved that the US has presented an economic vision for peace without referring to outstanding political issues, including a two-state solution, which they say must come first.

"Palestinians will oppose whatever the results of the Bahrain conference because our national cause is not an economic one. It is a political cause," said Mahmoud Khalf, a committee member of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

"This cause will end with the end of the Israeli occupation and the creation of Palestine as an independent country with Jerusalem as it its capital."

Ordinary Palestinians who turned out to protest said they feared the plan was a covert attempt to deny them their state.

“This so-called deal of the century aims at the denial of Palestinian rights,” said Em Mohammed Asalia, 50. “We are one nation and together we will defeat any plans against our cause."

Manal Alkafarna, 38, from Beit Hanoun in the north of the Gaza Strip, said: “Palestine is not for sale. Palestine has people who will protect it and the conference in Manama will fail."

Jameel Alian, a leader of a major militant group in Gaza, said economic bribes would not convince Palestinians to abandon their dreams of statehood.

“If Palestinians were looking for money, they would have accepted it a long time ago," Mr Alian said. "But we will not accept this. All we want is for Palestine to be free.

“We will defeat the Manama conference, just as we have defeated more dangerous conspiracies against us in the past.”

Updated: June 27, 2019 01:48 AM

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