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US and Bahrain to hold economics workshop for Palestinians

The US and Bahrain yesterday announced a “Peace to Prosperity” workshop on 25-26 June to promote better economic conditions for Palestinians as part of the Trump administration’s plan to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.

The joint statement said: “This workshop is a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanise support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”

The workshop will be held in Manama and will: “Facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region, including enhancements to economic governance, development of human capital, and facilitation of rapid private-sector growth.” the statement added.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin will attend the workshop, along with other finance ministers. He said: “This workshop will engage leaders from across the entire Middle East to promote economic growth and opportunity for the people in this important region.”

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-law and senior advisor, emphasised that the economic component of the US plan will only succeed: “If the core political issues are resolved. We look forward to presenting our vision on ways to bridge the core political issues very soon.”

A senior administration official said the political component, being crafted by Kushner and US special representative Jason Greenblatt, is expected to be unveiled at a later date. The official added: “If there’s peace, it will touch on not only the West Bank and Gaza but also Jordan, Lebanon, Israel and Egypt. The economies will become integrated. Think about how much money is spent on bullets right now. If it could be spent on infrastructure and human capital, think about how much better the region could be. It’s tough to digest both the economic and political proposals at once, since they’re both very detailed proposals.”

Palestinian Information Minister Nabil Abu Rudeineh told CNN that the workshop would be useless and that an economic programme that had no real political solution would lead nowhere.