US to hold Bahrain economic conference to launch Middle East peace plan

Official does not confirm Israeli and Palestinian attendance
Palestinians believe peace plan will be in favour of Israel

Reuters in Washington
Sun 19 May 2019

The US will hold an international economic “workshop” in Bahrain in late June, seeking to encourage investment in the Palestinian territories as the first part of Donald Trump’s long-awaited Middle East peace plan, the White House said on Sunday.

The conference in Manama on 25 and 26 June will bring together government and business leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, a senior Trump administration official said.

Attendees will an attempt to help jump-start the economic portion of the US peace initiative, which is expected to include proposals for resolving political issues at the heart of the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

However, a second senior US official declined to say whether Israeli and Palestinian officials would take part.

Trump has touted the plan as the “deal of the century” but Palestinian officials believe the US effort will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.

Despite deep skepticism among experts that Trump’s Middle East team can succeed where decades of US-backed efforts have failed, presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner and regional envoy Jason Greenblatt appear intent on focusing first on the potential economic benefits of peace.

“This will give hopefully the people in the region the potential to see what the economic opportunities could be if we can work out political issues that have held back the region for a long, long time,” the senior Trump official said.

US officials had said the peace plan would be rolled out after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ends in early June. But the announcement of the Bahrain workshop appeared to set the stage for a sequenced release of the plan, starting with the economic plan in late June and later the political proposals.

On Sunday the website Axios said a senior White House official confirmed that plan.


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