Thirteen UK charities have issued a joint statement criticising US President Donald Trump's "deal of the century", after it was announced that the early stages of the long-awaited peace plan will be unveiled in Bahrain next month.
The statement, which was signed by 13 British charities including Christian Aid, Interpal and Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), stressed that "the Palestinian people are facing a national emergency and urgently need our support".
"Over the past two years," the statement read, "the US has begun attempts to erase the status of some five million Palestinian refugees from what is known by Palestinians as the Nakba of 1948". The charities then went on to cite just some of the US' actions against Palestinians, including the cancellation of UNWRA funding, recognising Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and, more recently, effectively okaying Israel's annexation of the occupied West Bank.
Commenting on the "deal of the century" – the US peace plan crafted by President Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt – the charities said that, "since the plan was first proposed, the US has already acted to support and embed a vision of annexation of Palestinian land and perpetual Israeli occupation, heralding the negation of the Palestinian people's fundamental and inalienable rights to self-determination and return under international law".
The statement concluded: "As a coalition of UK-based humanitarian, development, human rights and faith organisations working to support the rights and welfare of the Palestinian people, we are deeply concerned that the basic human rights and civilian protections guaranteed to the Palestinians under international law are now under serious attack, and in grave danger." It therefore called on "the UK government, parliamentarians and civil society organisations to reaffirm their commitment to the principles of international law and justice at this critical time".
The charities issued their statement in the wake of an announcement this weekend that aspects of the "deal of the century" will be released at an economic forum to be held in Bahrain in June. The "workshop" is intended to "encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region," with Kushner telling CNN that "people are letting their grandfathers' conflict destroy their children's futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist".
White House officials have stressed that the forum will focus on economic elements of the deal, saying though "we recognize that this needs to go hand in hand with the political plan, this will be the first chance to roll out details of the economic plan". As such, finance ministers from the region will be invited to attend, but not foreign ministers.
The announcement has been vehemently criticised by the Palestinians, who have vowed to stay away from the forum. New Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, said yesterday that his government has not been consulted on the planned meeting, while Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani said "any Palestinian who take[s] part would be nothing but a collaborator [with] the Americans and Israel".
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has also condemned the peace plan for its presumed bias towards Israel, saying at the swearing in of the new Palestinian government last month that "the first challenge ahead of the new government is the 'deal of the century'".
"We rejected this deal from the beginning because it did not include Jerusalem and we do not want a state without Jerusalem or without Gaza," Abbas explained, adding that any attempts to talk with the Trump administration were "useless".