Jordanian experts divided over participation in Bahrain workshop

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AMMAN: While Jordan witnessed a number of protest rallies in opposition to the Bahrain Prosperity to Peace workshop, political pundits were divided over their government’s decision on Saturday to participate with a low-level delegation headed by the director-general of the Ministry of Finance.

Adnan Abu Odeh, a former adviser to King Hussein and King Abdullah, told Arab News that attending the workshop was important to learn what it was about.

“If Jordan is supposed to be included in this plan, it makes sense for Jordanians to understand it better before making any decision,” he said. Abu Odeh said that participation in the June 25 workshop in the Bahraini capital Manama did not mean acceptance or rejection of it. “At present we were invited to learn about it and not to make a decision whether to accept it or not.”

Ahmad Shunaq, secretary-general of the National Constitutional Party, said that participation did not mean the surrender of steadfast positions on the Palestinian issue. “We are with Jordan and against any attempts at doubting our intentions. If we are absent, we will allow others to negotiate on our behalf. The ABC of international politics is always to protect the policies of the homeland.”

The Islah block in Jordan’s Parliament, however, issued a strong statement opposing participation. Coalition head, Abdallah Akileh, said in a statement that Jordan should not attend. “We call on the government not to attend the Bahrain workshop, which is the beginning of a plan to liquidate the Palestinian cause at the expense of Jordan.”

Akileh noted that even if Jordanian representation was very low at the level of the director-general of the Finance Ministry, such participation legitimized “the conspiracy against us and our sovereignty.”

Veteran journalist and analyst, Lamis Andoni, commented on her Facebook page that the economic workshop is nothing more than a trap. “Economic contracts require that the economic plan is also accepted and that the Palestinian markets are open for foreign investments who will be the big winners in this effort.”

Labor rights activist, Mohammad Snaid, also denounced the workshop and Jordan’s participation in it. “Our position on the Manama conference is the total rejection of it. This even is aimed at conspiring against the Palestinian cause and Jordan at the same time.”

Snaid said: “The US will be led to believe that Jordan’s participation means acceptance of the deal of the century, which the people of Jordan reject since we stand side by side with our Palestinian brothers and we will not accept anything that Palestinians will not accept in support of their inalienable rights.”

MP Mohammad Tharawi said that Jordan is experiencing a pivotal moment and must take its responsibility seriously. “The rights of millions of Jordanians of Palestinian origin in historic Palestine is on our shoulders, they have the right of return and compensation,” he said.

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