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Palestinians blast 'amateur' Kushner at UN Jerusalem meet

By AFP - Jun 28,2019 - Last updated at Jun 28,2019

A photo taken on July 17, 2017, shows Al Haram Al Sharif compound in the Old City of Jerusalem (AFP photo)

GENEVA — Palestinian officials on Thursday dismissed the Bahrain conference led by "amateurs" like Jared Kushner, as they opened two days of talks on occupied Jerusalem's future at the United Nations. 

The meeting at the UN's European headquarters lacked the fanfare — and multibillion dollar economic plans — that accompanied the Bahrain talks spearheaded this week by President Donald Trump's son-in-law.

The Geneva meeting, called the International Conference on the Question of Jerusalem, was convened by the UN’s Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People.

Officially, the conference is aimed at preserving Jerusalem’s multifaith heritage, but with few top-level officials on hand its outcomes are unlikely to influence the Middle East peace process. 

Nevertheless, Palestinian leaders sought to portray the meeting as a counterpoint to the “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain, boycotted by the Palestinians who accused the unabashedly pro-Israel Trump of dangling the prospect of cash to try to impose political solutions.

Blasting “the amateurs of political activities like Kushner”, the Palestinian Authority’s Social Affairs Minister Ahmad Majdalani called the Bahrain talks a “resounding failure” in his opening remarks. 

He charged that Kushner’s plan merely aimed to “improve our lives under occupation”.

“We want an end to occupation.”

The Palestinian permanent observer to the UN, Riyad Mansour, told reporters that his problem with the Bahrain meeting was not “a personal issue” with Kushner. 

Rather, he stressed, Kushner’s initiative lacks credibility because “you cannot begin the process of resolving this complicated issue through the economic door”.

“It has to be done through the political door.”

Kushner, a 38-year-old real estate investor, said he has focused on jump-starting the Palestinian economy because the Middle East peace process needed a fresh approach after the years of deadlock on the political front. 

The two-day Geneva conference on occupied Jerusalem includes speeches from Arab and Israeli academics as well as religious leaders.

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