Israeli officials not invited to Bahrain conference

The White House announced yesterday that Israeli officials will not be invited to the ‘Peace to Prosperity’ workshop in Bahrain on 25-26 June.

The announcement followed the Trump administration’s statement earlier this week that the political component of the peace plan will be delayed until November when a new Israeli government is expected to be formed.

The White House said: “This is a workshop where we will present our economic vision for the Palestinian people. As such, we want the focus to be on the economic aspect, not the political”. Sources have indicated that the White House is planning to invite Israeli business leaders to attend the conference.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted on Monday: “Israel will be represented at the Bahrain economic workshop in a way that will be determined later.” Katz added that Israel “has a key role to play in this process”.

While the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem said the decision was coordinated between Israel and the US, Maariv writes that the decision is: “A blow to the White House and to Israel, who had hoped to have Israel and Arab countries present a united front, irrespective of the peace process with the Palestinians—a hope that has been dashed for the time being.” Israeli media have speculated that Egypt, Jordan and Morocco insisted that no Israeli government representatives attend as a condition for their attendance in order to assuage Palestinian criticism of the event.

Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are expected to attend the conference. The European Union announced that it will be represented by “technical level” officials. Russia and China said they won’t be attending and Palestinian Authority officials announced they will boycott the event. Palestinian sources said Finance Minister Shukri Bishara has yet to announce whether or not he will go.

Jason Greenblatt, the US special representative for international negotiations, said the aim of the conference is: “To show what could happen to the Palestinian economy if there’s a peace agreement. We understand completely that there is no economic vision that’ll work without a peace agreement. But we also want to make the point that there will be no peace agreement that works without true economic vision.”