Lebanon Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri says $50 billion plan can't lure Beirut into settling Palestinian refugees who must have the right of return. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Abbas says "Bahrain conference will fail."
Lebanon will not be lured by a US plan to invest billions in the country in return for settling Palestinian refugees, its parliament speaker Nabih Berri said on Sunday even as Palestinians once again rejected the US Mideast plan, with one official saying Washington's plan ''ridicules'' the Palestinian stance.
"Those who think that waving billions of dollars can lure Lebanon, which is under the weight of a suffocating economic crisis, into succumbing or bartering over its principles are mistaken," Berri said.
The rejection of settling Palestinian refugees who must have the right of return stands at the forefront of these principles, he said.
'Deal of the century'
US President Donald Trump's blueprint for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set to be presented by his son-in-law Jared Kushner, at a Bahrain conference, envisions a $50 billion investment plan to lift the Palestinian and neighbouring Arab state economies.
But it has met broad rejection in the Arab world, even as some in the Gulf called for giving it a chance.
Lebanese parties have long held that Palestinian refugees cannot be permanently settled in the country, which is widely believed in Lebanon to be a goal of the Kushner plan.
The idea of permanently settling mainly Sunni Muslim refugees sparks fears in Lebanon of rocking its religious sectarian balance.
The country maintains a power-sharing system among its many religious sects that fought a war between 1975 and 1990, which included Palestinian factions.
The US Mideast plan includes spending more than half of the $50 billion in the Palestinian territories over 10 years, while 6 billion would go to Lebanon, $7.5 billion to Jordan and $9 billion to Egypt.
'Bahrain conference will fail'
The deal was again rejected by Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas who said he was confident the peace conference in Bahrain would fail.
"We are certain that the workshop in Manama will not be successful," Abbas told journalists.
Palestinian Finance Minister Shukri Bishara also said Washington's plan ''ridicules'' the Palestinian stance. Bishara rejected the upcoming Bahrain meeting and called for peace during an Arab League emergency session on Palestine's budget deficit.
No Palestinian officials belonging to Abbas's Palestine Liberation Organisation and the Palestinian Authority (PA) will attend the conference in Bahrain.
The White House said it decided against inviting the Israeli government because the PA would not be there.
The PA sees the economic conference as an attempt to circumvent its demands for the creation of a viable Palestinian state.
The Trump administration hopes wealthy Gulf states and nations in Europe and Asia, along with private investors, would foot much of the bill, Kushner said on Saturday.
The lack of a political solution, which Washington has said it would unveil later, prompted rejection not only from Palestinians but also in Arab countries with which Israel would seek normal relations.
Any investment "at the expense of the Palestinian cause" will not find fertile ground in Lebanon, Berri said.
Lebanon will not attend the Bahrain meeting on June 25 and 26, in which US-led proposals for an economic vision to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be discussed.
"Until now, Lebanon has not been presented any official form of the American plan," an official source said on Sunday.