RAMALLAH, Palestine (AA) - The Palestinian Authority decided Thursday not to attend a U.S.-led economic workshop next month in Bahrain, according to Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)’s Executive Committee.
"We do not want to criticize or undermine anyone's interests, but in light of the decisions of the American administration we decided not to participate in the conference, in Manama in any way," he said in a statement. "Those who want to defend the interests of the Palestinian people must support the position of the Palestinian consensus represented by the position of [Palestinian] President Mahmoud Abbas, PLO's Executive Committee, the Palestinian factions, the national figures and the private sector."
Erekat said the (PLO), the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, did not authorize anyone to speak on its behalf.
"We highly value this Palestinian consensus for the victory of our legitimate national rights."
Erekat thanked the "international consensus" at the U.N. Security Council that opposed the U.S.-administration's positions to attempt to topple the two-state solution on 1967 borders, and the issues of Jerusalem, refugees, [Israeli] settlements and borders.
Washington announced plans Sunday to hold a major conference in Manama, where U.S. officials will unveil economic aspects of American back-channel peace plan U.S. President Donald Trump has termed the “deal of the century.”
Bahrain defended the workshop, characterizing it as an attempt to empower Palestinians.
In addition to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates officially announced participation in the workshop.
Since Trump’s controversial announcement to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has rejected any mediating role by the U.S. in the Middle East peace process.
Jerusalem remains at the heart of the perennial Mideast conflict, with Palestinians hoping East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- might eventually serve as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.