by: Jo Sarah Stanford
Wednesday, 12 June 2019 | Support is growing for a US-led economic forum in Bahrain later this month, with Jordan, Egypt and Morocco officially accepting the invitation. The Palestinian Authority (PA) has condemned the conference and is calling on other Arab nations to boycott the event. Participants in the “Peace to Prosperity” forum, scheduled for June 25–26, are expected to discuss predominately regional economic issues as well as security and the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.
Attending the conference with be representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Jordan, Egypt and Morocco are the latest countries to confirm their attendance. According to Ynetnews, representatives from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund will also be there. Lebanon has rejected the forum, although it is unclear whether they were actually invited. Israel has not yet received an invitation, but it is believed that the US is waiting for more Arab nations to accept the invitation before extending it to the Jewish state.
The PA has spoken out against the event and against those who are attending. PA Spokesperson Ibrahim Melhim said the PA “deeply regrets the declaration of Cairo and Amman about its participat[ion] in the workshop and call on them and all brotherly and friendly countries to withdraw from participating in the workshop,” reported the Times of Israel.
Officials from the US and host Bahrain said the aim of the gathering is to “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.”
Senior White House Advisor Jared Kushner announced the forum on May 19. Kushner and Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have since been in the Middle East to meet with regional leaders and garner support for the event.
Following a meeting with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, the latter said, “I’m tremendously encouraged by how the United States, under President Trump, is working to bring allies together in this region against common challenges, but also to seize common opportunities,” reported Al Jazeera.
It is expected that certain economic aspects of US President Trump’s yet-to-be-revealed Israeli–Palestinian peace plan dubbed the “Deal of the Century” will be discussed. The political aspects, however, will remain under wraps. The plan has been delayed numerous times. It will reportedly offer a new solution to the Middle East conflict, but has already been outright rejected by Palestinian leaders, despite details being unknown.
The forum is a positive step forward in relations for the US, Middle East and Israel. With Egypt and Jordan the only two Arab nations in the Middle East to have diplomatic ties with Israel, their attendance might motivate other Arab countries to attend the forum.
Posted on June 12, 2019
Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 12, 2019)
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