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Bahrain wants talks with Israel

The Bahraini Foreign Minister said yesterday that Israel is part of the heritage of the Middle East and is there to stay.

Khalid bin Ahmad Al Khalifa was interviewed by Barak Ravid from Israel’s Channel 13 news at the US-led Peace to Prosperity conference in Bahrain. He said: “Israel is a country in the Middle East. It is part of the heritage of this region. The Jewish people have a place among us. So communication needs to be a prerequisite for solving all the dispute. We should talk.”

He continued: “We need to see a two-state solution. As Israelis have a country in their region and the citizens enjoy their own citizenship in their country, we need to see a Palestinian country with Palestinians enjoying their own citizenship.”

The Sultanate of Oman announced yesterday at the Bahrain conference that it would open an embassy in Ramallah: “In continuation of the sultanate’s support for the Palestinian people.”

Speaking to reporters on the final day of the conference, Jared Kushner said: “When people criticise, the question I would ask them is what is your idea, what ideas are you putting forward. It is easy to be against things, but that is not going to help the Palestinian people, it is not going to help the region. But what we’ve tried to do is take the harder task of being for something. And we’ve put out 140 pages of details.” He added: “The Palestinians don’t have a great track record in getting a deal done.”

Kushner said the economic part of the US plan will be followed by the political part “when we are ready,” although the administration has said this is unlikely to be before November as a result of Israel’s elections on 17 September

Senior Palestine Liberation Organisation official Hanan Ashrawi attacked the US for the “punitive measures” against the Palestinians, saying: “Why did they target Palestinian infrastructure? Why did they stop scholarships to Palestinian students?”

Christine Lagarde, Head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), said at the conference: “Improving economic conditions and attracting lasting investment to the region depends ultimately on being able to reach a peace agreement.”