President Trump should not allow the euphoria that swept the world following the 27 November 2007 Annapolis Conference to infect the Manama Conference being jointly hosted by himself and Bahrain on 25-26 June.
Yet his just released 40 page document “Peace to Prosperity” threatens to do just this – offering US$6.5 billion in Grant and Equity Funding and Concessional Funding to carry out a variety of programs in Judea and Samaria (aka 'West Bank') and Gaza including:
- Starting Equity-Matching and Lending Facilities
- Border Crossing Points Upgrade
- Power Plant Upgrades
- Tourism Lending Facility and Site Rehabilitation
- New Palestinian University
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s closing remarks at Annapolis were brimming with hope:
“The conference began with the joint announcement by Prime Minister Olmert and President Abbas that they will begin negotiations to establish a Palestinian state and to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace with the goal of concluding an agreement by the end of the year 2008”
Under their Joint Understanding Olmert and Abbas committed:
“...to immediately implement their respective obligations under the Performance-Based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israel-Palestinian Conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 (hereinafter, "the Roadmap") and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism, led by the United States, to follow up on the implementation of the Roadmap”
Conference attendees included:
- Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
- Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
- President Bush
and representatives from:
- Quartet members - United Nations, European Union and Russia
- Organization of Islamic Cooperation
- Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan Lebanon, Morocco, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen
- 30 other States including Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan and the United Kingdom.
A follow-up Donors’ Conference was held in Paris on 17 December 2007. Delegations from 87 countries and international organizations pledged a total of US$7.4 billion to support Palestinian institution-building and economic recovery for the next three years. Of this amount, US$3.4 Billion was pledged for 2008. This amount included:
“...humanitarian assistance, which was essential to help relieve the daily lives of the Palestinian population,
The International Conference in Support of the Palestinian Economy for the Reconstruction of Gaza
was held in Sharm El-Sheikh on 2 March 2009. Participants pledged approximately US$4.48 billion covering the next two years and committed to:
“...start disbursing these pledges as quickly as possible in order to rapidly impact the daily lives of the Palestinians.”
Pouring US$12 billion into Gaza and the 'West Bank' did not relieve or impact the daily lives of Gaza and the 'West Bank' Arab populations.
The promised “Permanent Two-State solution” is now dead and buried.
Trump’s proposed US$6.5 billion spend will not improve the daily lives of these captive populations still being governed by their 2007 rulers – Hamas and the Palestine Liberation Organization – who remain divided and confrontational.
Trump should use his US$6.5 billion to:
- Fund new residential and infrastructure programs in neighbouring countries such as Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia and
- Encourage the legal migration of 'West Bank' and Gazan Arabs to such countries by offering them financial incentives to help them achieve prosperity and a better life for themselves and their families.
Manama Conference invitees will reportedly not include Israel.
The Manama Conference should not continue pouring billions of dollars into these bottomless pits of misery and despair ruled by groups who will:
- not allow free elections and
- never recognize Israel as the national home of the Jewish people
Manama 2019 should not repeat the mistakes of Annapolis, Paris and Sharm El-Sheikh 2007-2009.
Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades. His cartoons can be viewed at Drybonesblog