by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA/RAMALLAH, June 25 (Xinhua) -- The U.S.-sponsored economic workshop "Peace for Prosperity," that is currently held in Manama, Bahrain for two days, was "born dead," a senior Palestinian official said Tuesday.
"Manama workshop was born dead and there is no alternative for the Arab Peace Initiative and the implementation of the international resolutions to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," Nabil Abu Rudeineh, an aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said in a press statement.
A status of outrage and a general strike dominated the Palestinian territories, including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, in protest against the economic workshop in Bahrain.
At least 12 Palestinians were injured on Tuesday afternoon during clashes with Israeli soldiers in eastern Gaza Strip in protest against holding the workshop.
Dozens of Palestinians reached the area in northern Gaza Strip, close to the border with Israel, waving Palestinian flags, chanted slogans against Israel and the United States and threw stones at the soldiers stationed on the border.
Eyewitnesses said that the soldiers fired teargas canisters and live gunfire at the demonstrators.
The Palestinian political factions stressed that "resolution to the conflict with Israel can never be economic only, but political."
Public and private institutions, including banks, were closed, in response to the call of the Palestinian factions.
Large banners were hung across the Gaza Strip against the workshop and the U.S. plan that is being prepared to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, better known as the "Deal of the Century."
The workshop will be attended by 39 countries, including the host country Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Morocco.
Palestinians factions and the Palestinian Authority have expressed regret over the participation of the Arab countries in the workshop and have called for a boycott of it.
The U.S. has decided not to involve senior Israeli officials and only opened it to Israeli businessmen.
"The Arab Peace Initiative, approved by Arab and Islamic summits and became part of the United Nations Security Council resolution 1515, is a red line, and American officials can't reform the initiative on behalf of all these summits," said Abu Rudeineh.
Fawzi Bahroum, Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that the workshop in Bahrain is a "cheap swap of money and economic projects" for the legitimate Palestinian rights.
The workshop is an attempt to glorify the U.S. "Deal of the Century" and to undermine the Palestinian rights, said Bahroum.
Hamas, which has been ruling the Gaza Strip since it violently took control of the area in 2007, is receiving monthly donations from Qatar, to keep running the enclave and ease an Israeli blockade that has been imposed for 12 years.
The Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank warned of the outcome of the workshop, saying that it aims to introduce the U.S.-proposed peace plan that only serves Israeli interests.
Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas movement leader from Gaza, told Xinhua that Hamas, together with other political powers and the Palestinian people, are unified to reject and oppose the U.S. peace plan and the workshop.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, member of Hamas politburo, slammed the workshop as "a historic disgrace" and a "conspiracy" against the Palestinian cause and rights.
"Achieving economic peace or prosperity doesn't worth a single inch of the land of Palestine," he added.
Mohammad al-Hindi, a senior Islamic Jihad leader, said in a press statement that the Palestinians will thwart the "suspicious Deal of the Century."
Talal Abu Zarifa, a senior leader in the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) in Gaza, told Xinhua that "Bahrain workshop is a political bribe to the Palestinian people to make concessions to their legitimate rights."
"The United States is trying to impose its dominance on the world in order to pass its plan, but no one can force the Palestinians to accept this deal, whatever the price is," said Abu Zarifa.
Mahmoud al-Aaydi, 25-year-old ice-cream vendor from al-Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza, told Xinhua that the workshop in Bahrain is an Arab-American meeting aimed at blurring the Palestinian identity and the Palestinian people's legitimate rights.
"It is clear that these legitimate rights are based on the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their lands they fled in 1948," he said, adding that "anyone who disregards or ignores these legitimate and stable rights will fail."