US kicks off Middle East peace summit in Bahrain

US-led summit unveiling economic portion of President Trump's Mideast peace plan, launched in Bahrain.

Arutz Sheva Staff, AFP,

Manama at night, Bahrain
Manama at night, Bahrain
iStock

The United States opened a two-day conference in Bahrain Tuesday, focusing on the economic aspects of President Donald Trump's Israeli-Arab peace plan, dubbed the "deal of the century".

The declared aim of the workshop is achieving economic stability in the Palestinian Authority -- but the PA has boycotted the event, which it claims is an attempt to buy them off.

The workshop in Manama will bring together government, business and civil society leaders, according to a joint statement by the two organizing countries.

It could see large-scale investment pledges for the Palestinian Authority, but is unlikely to focus heavily on the political issues at the core of the Israeli-Arab conflict.

- Palestinian leadership and Israel -

The Palestinian Authority confirmed in May it would not participate in the conference, adding they were not consulted before it was announced.

"Palestine will not attend the Manama meeting," a statement on the Palestine Liberation Organisation's (PLO) website said.

"This is a collective Palestinian position, from President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLO Executive Committee to all Palestinian political movements and factions, national figures, private sector and civil society."

Abbas reiterated his position on Saturday as the US unveiled details of the plan. The Palestinian Authority leader said a political solution must come before any discussion of economic issues.

The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the US administration since Trump broke
recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has said Israelis will attend, but it was unclear whether they would include government officials or business leaders.

- Gulf countries -

Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last month welcomed the economic conference.

Riyadh said it would send Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri, saying Saudi participation reaffirms the kingdom's "firm position to support the Palestinian people to achieve their stability and growth", according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Abu Dhabi's foreign ministry also said it would send a delegation, but reiterated that it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem as its capital.

It remains unclear whether Qatar -- isolated by regional former allies, including Bahrain, in a long-running diplomatic dispute -- will attend the conference.

Qatar, a close US ally, said it "has followed the call by the United States" to hold a workshop in Manama, according to a foreign ministry statement.

It added it would "spare no effort" to address challenges facing the Arab region, but did not say whether it would be represented at the meeting.

Kuwait and Oman have not confirmed whether they will attend.

- Jordan, Egypt and Morocco -

Jordan and Egypt -- the only Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel -- finally confirmed their attendance on Saturday.

Both countries however said officials from their finance ministries would attend the workshop.

Jordan's foreign ministry spokesman Sufyan al-Qudah confirmed that Amman would send the secretary general from its finance ministry, without giving a name.

Egypt's foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez told AFP that Cairo would send a delegation headed by a deputy finance minister, again without giving a name.

On Monday, Morocco announced it would take part in the conference.

Rabat, which does not have relations with Israel, said it would be represented by an official from the economy ministry, according to the official news agency MAP.

The United Nations announced on June 12 that it would send its deputy Middle East coordinator Jamie McGoldrick to the event.




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