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Demonstration in Ramallah

Palestinians protesting in Ramallah’s Manarah Square. Photo: Shabbir Lakha

As protests against Trump's bogus 'peace' plan erupt across the world, Shabbir Lakha reports from Ramallah

Palestinians across the West Bank began three days of protests on Monday against the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ plan being proposed at the Bahrain Conference beginning on Tuesday.

The Palestinian leadership have boycotted the conference and called for three days of rage. Around 500 Palestinians gathered in Ramallah’s Manarah Square on Monday to make their voices heard.

Speakers denounced the Bahrain conference as a sham that is whitewashing the occupation. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries’ involvement in the process was condemned as were Egypt and Jordan for agreeing to attend. People also gave solidarity to the people of Algeria and Sudan and praised the popular uprisings.

Trump has shown his unequivocal support for Israel at the expense of Palestinians with his Embassy move to Jerusalem and cancelling of funding for UNRWA. His actions have directly given the green light for massacres in Gaza and a huge acceleration of settlement building in the West Bank, and Palestinians can see it.

Placards and banners read “Trump’s plan is a failure”, “Jerusalem is not for sale”, “Manama meeting supports Israel’s colonial project”, “No peace, no prosperity”.

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Protests and clashes with Israeli soldiers also took place on Bethlehem, Hebron, Jenin and other cities, and on Tuesday hundreds took to the streets again and fires could be seen set near checkpoints.

Everyone I’ve spoken to are very aware of Trump’s plan and are entirely against it. Palestinians are still paying the price for the Oslo Accords that gave Israel licence to massively expand its control over Palestinians’ daily life. It’s obvious to most here that this will be far worse than Oslo, is designed to not give Palestinians a choice and will push Palestinians even further from freedom.

But the widespread opposition to the deal didn’t translate into the protests which would have been much bigger, but many Palestinians are also deeply sceptical of the Palestinian Authority. While Mahmoud Abbas talks big about rejecting the occupation, Palestinians see the security cooperation with the Israeli army that means the Palestinian Authority is carrying our Israel’s orders for them. When Palestinians protest against the PA or even against Israel in not officially sanctioned protests they are met brutality and arrest from Palestinian police. 

But it’s clear that Palestinians will never accept Trump’s plan and are willing to fight back.

What’s wrong with the Bahrain Conference?

The two-day ‘economic workshop’ is supposed to flesh out the US’ economic plans for Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the century’. The plan revealed by Jared Kushner over the weekend pledges to raise $50bn to invest in Israel and Palestine to facilitate economic cooperation between the two and help the Palestinian economy to flourish.

The 40 page summary and the 96 page project proposal fail to mention the occupation of Palestine even once. It fails to mention Israeli settlements in the West Bank. There is a proposal to build an airport in the West Bank without any attempt to explain how this would be possible without a sovereign Palestinian state. There’s also $5bn planned to build a bridge between Gaza and the West Bank without any mention of the siege on Gaza.

It’s as if - according to this plan - Palestinians are thus far choosing to live under the conditions they are and Israel is playing no part in it. It is completely devoid of reality and is entirely meaningless without a political solution which ends the occupation of the West Bank, ends the siege of Gaza and gives Palestine sovereignty.

Even Israel knows it’s nonsense but they will go along with it as a pretext for further their own aims. Benny Gantz, the Israeli Opposition Leader, immediately reacted by saying the plan was good but can only work if Gaza is completely demilitarised.

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Leaked documents of Trump’s plan last month stated that the US would punish Palestinians if they reject the plan - including giving full military support for a war in Gaza to destroy Hamas.

What Israel really wants is political legitimacy to annex parts of the West Bank and to launch another war on Gaza.

That’s why Palestinians are absolutely right to boycott the conference and mobilise against it. More mobilisations can be expected as Trump’s plans progress.

Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha

Shabbir Lakha is a Stop the War officer, a People's Assembly activist and a member of Counterfire.

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