Aim of upcoming Bahrain conference is to realise US’s ‘traitorous and dastardly’ plan on Palestine, supreme leader says.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday slammed the United States’s Middle East peace plan as a “great betrayal of the Islamic world” and urged Gulf rivals not to back it.
Washington is gearing up to roll out economic aspects of its long-awaited proposal for peace between Israel and Palestine, dubbed the “deal of the century”, at a conference in Bahrain later this month.
“The aim of this conference is to realise America’s traitorous, dastardly plan on Palestine, which they have named the ‘deal of the century’,” Khamenei said in a live television address at prayers for the Eid al-Fitr holiday.
“The ‘deal of the century’ will, God willing, never take root … This is a great betrayal of the Islamic world. We hope the leaders of Bahrain and Saudi [Arabia] will realise into what a quagmire they are stepping and how harmful it will be for their future.”
The peace plan, fronted by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has already been rejected by the Palestinians, who say the White House’s policies have been blatantly biased in favour of Israel.
US allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are set to attend the Bahrain conference on June 25-26.
Palestinians have cut off all contacts with the Trump administration since the president broke with decades of bipartisan policy to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in December 2017.
Critics say the Bahrain event may be a prelude to a US push to jettison the “two-state” solution – a long-standing, international formula for an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank, occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza.
The twin-state blueprint has been the basis for decades of lending and technical support from global financial institutions, aimed at building the capacity of Palestinian government ministries and the private sector.
In comments released on his official website later on Wednesday, Khamenei also insisted Iran did not seek to “throw Jews into [the] sea” and saw a referendum as the solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
He repeated Iran’s proposal of holding a vote with the participation of “Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents of Palestine as well as Palestinian refugees” on a system of government.
Kushner, a White House senior adviser, concluded a trip to the Middle East and Europe this week, aimed partly at drumming up support for the Peace for Prosperity conference intended to unveil the economic part of Trump’s long-heralded peace plan.
Though Saudi Arabia and the UAE plan to attend the Bahrain conference, they have assured the Palestinians they would not endorse a US plan that fails to meet their main demands.
Khamenei berated Saudi Arabia and Bahrain for enabling American plans.
“This meeting belongs to the Americans, but Bahraini rulers are hosting it due to their weaknesses and anti-Muslim and anti-popular stand,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israeli Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Tzipi Hotovely said in a weekend radio interview that “Israelis” would attend the Bahrain conference, but it was unclear whether she was referring to officials or business delegates.
Asked if she believed the event should be postponed given Palestinians’ boycott, Hotovely responded: “No. There is no reason to … Apart from them, everyone’s okay. Everyone’s in favour.”