Ignoring the vapid Palestinian response, Israel and the Arab Gulf states were among 19 nations that attended the Trump initiative held at the White House on what needs to be done to alleviate the Gaza humanitarian crisis.
• Even though Abbas is foolishly boycotting the initiative, a senior administration official said, ‘Many of the projects could go ahead without the PA, but our goal is to involve it.’
News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff
The White House on Tuesday hosted 19 nations, including Israel and Arab Gulf states, to address the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip.
But the Palestinian Authority, angered by the Trump administration’s policies on Jerusalem, boycotted the meeting.
U.S. President Donald Trump reversed decades of U.S. policy when in December he decided to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The decisions have incensed the Palestinians and other U.S. allies.
The administration is also putting the final touches on a Middle East peace plan. U.S. officials said the White House conference was integral to future negotiations.
“Fixing Gaza is necessary to achieve a peace agreement,” a senior administration official said, stressing that the multinational humanitarian and reconstruction effort remains in its initial stages.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who is overseeing the Israeli-Palestinian peace process for the White House, gave a two-hour presentation to the attending countries, officials said. But the potential U.S. peace plan was not addressed.
Representatives from Israel, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates, as well as several European nations, attended the meeting. The format did not allow for direct discussions between Israel and the Arab states, officials said.
Potential electricity, water, sewage, and health projects were discussed, but officials declined to outline specific proposals. A senior official said many projects can be implemented without the assistance of the Palestinian Authority, but the goal is to have it involved.
Gaza has a 43.6% unemployment rate, and many Gazans blame Israel for their hardships, saying the economic blockade on the enclave has drastically reduced the movements of people and goods.
But Gazans also fault their own leaders, complaining of the power struggle between Hamas, the Islamist terrorist group that seized power in Gaza in a military coup in 2007, and Fatah, the secular party of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israel, which pulled out of Gaza in 2005, says it has been forced to control access to and from the territory to curtail Hamas’ efforts to carry out terrorist attacks and smuggle weapons and material to manufacture weapons into the coastal enclave. Egypt also maintains a blockade on Gaza.
On Tuesday, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah escaped an assassination attempt in Gaza, when a bomb struck his convoy. Last October, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority signed a reconciliation agreement, but it has yet to be fully implemented.
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