Palestinians don't need this week's US-led Bahrain meeting to develop their country, they need peace, Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara said on Sunday, reports Reuters.
The June 25-26 conference in the Bahraini capital Manama, which the Palestinian Authority is boycotting, will discuss US-led proposals, set to be presented by US President Donald Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, for an economic vision that is part of a wider plan to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
The $50 billion plan envisions a global investment fund to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies.
While many Arab states are attending the meeting, the plan has drawn rebuke as an attempt to circumvent Palestinian demands for an independent state on lands captured in the 1967 war.
"We don't need the Bahrain meeting to build our country, we need peace, and the sequence of (the plan) – economic revival followed by peace is unrealistic and an illusion," Bishara said on the sidelines of a meeting of Arab finance ministers in Cairo.
First of all, give us our land and our freedom.
While the precise outline of the political part of Kushner's plan has been shrouded in secrecy, officials briefed on it say he has jettisoned the two-state solution that envisages an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.
Kushner told Reuters that the plan, previously dubbed the "deal of the century", could be the "opportunity of the century" for the Palestinians.
In an address to Sunday's meeting at Arab League headquarters, Bishara cited the "bitter experience" of the Palestinians since the 1993 Oslo Accords, including the US decision to cut aid to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) for Palestinian refugees.
"We are careful and sceptical of what is called the deal of the century – or what was called a couple of days ago, the opportunity of the century," Bishara said.
Sunday's Arab finance ministers' meeting was called to discuss the Palestinian budget deficit, which Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit put at $700 million for the current year.
Arab states are expected to agree to activate a financial safety net of $100 million a month agreed upon at previous Arab meetings.