Next week, a region-wide “economic workshop” is scheduled to take place in Manama to discuss, inter alia, avenues for improving economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. But the Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas has announced that his government will boycott the conference—which is co-sponsored by the U.S.—and Palestinian businesses seem to have given in to pressure from Abbas’s government to do the same. Alan Baker decries the futility of Abbas’s approach, which also likely violates the Oslo Accords:
Given the [current poor] economic situation of the Palestinians, logic would dictate a positive and co-operative attitude to any plan aimed at improving their economic stability and prosperity. Logic would similarly dictate that any responsible Palestinian leadership and concerned public would welcome with open arms a serious initiative aimed at developing their abilities, enhancing their resources, and encouraging investments and economic initiatives—especially since the . . . workshop has been convened without prejudice to any ensuing political negotiation process with Israel.
The wide range of Palestinian commitments [made] throughout the peace process [also] points to a clear obligation on the part of the Palestinian leadership to advance, encourage, support, and participate in all projects and initiatives aimed at furthering economic cooperation for the sake of the stability and prosperity of the Palestinian public.
By boycotting the Manama meeting and by conducting a concerted political campaign to misrepresent and undermine it, the Palestinian leadership is irresponsibly undermining its basic responsibilities to seek to improve the welfare and prosperity of its people through good governance, [and] violating its solemn commitments in the context of the peace process, both vis-à-vis Israel and vis-à-vis those countries and regional organs that supported, endorsed, and witnessed the Oslo Accords, including Egypt, Jordan, the United States, the European Union, Russia, Norway, and the United Nations.