Bahrain conference begins today

The US-led ‘Peace to Prosperity’ conference begins today in Manama, after the publication of an economic plan for the Palestinians was published on Saturday.

No Israeli or Palestinian officials will be attending but a number of Israelis from the private sector will be attending, including Yoav Mordechai, a former IDF Major-General and head of COGAT, the Israeli military’s unit that coordinates civilian affairs in the Palestinian territories. Kan News reports that Israeli officials were not invited due to opposition from Arab countries. Palestinian officials are not attending as part of their boycott against the US administration.

Ten Palestinian businesspeople are still expected to attend including Ashraf Jabari, a Hebron-area businessman with close links to Israelis living in the West Bank. Mohammed Massad had originally announced that they would attend, but has pulled out. Massad, originally from Jenin, works in agricultural development and has lived in Haifa for the past 22 years.

Massad told the Times of Israel: “I accepted the invitation to attend the conference after it was affirmed to me that it will be about bringing real investment for the Palestinian people. But when I learned of the names of the group of [Palestinian] businessmen attending the conference, I decided to withdraw my participation because it brings me no honour to stand alongside them.”

Speakers at the conference include Jared Kushner, US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Tony Blair, IMF head Christine Lagarde and the head of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.

Hundreds of Palestinians protested against the US economic plan across cities in the West Bank yesterday, including in Ramallah, Nablus and Hebron.

In an interview with CNN, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh said: “The Palestinians aren’t in line waiting for a loaf of bread, and they have no interest in living in a five-star hotel under occupation. We want to live in dignity in an independent and sovereign state with Jerusalem as its capital.”