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White House begins ‘peace plan’ roll out with Bahrain-hosted economic workshop

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) is being welcomed by Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (L) and officials at the Bahrain International Airport in Manama, Bahrain on January 11, 2019. [US Department of State / Handout - Anadolu Agency]
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (C) is being welcomed by Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa (L) and officials at the Bahrain International Airport in Manama, Bahrain on January 11, 2019. [US Department of State / Handout - Anadolu Agency]

The Trump administration yesterday announced an economic “workshop” in Bahrain in June, as the White House begins to roll out its so-called “peace plan” for Israel and the Palestinians.

As reported by CNN, the gathering is intended to “encourage investing capital in the West Bank, Gaza, and the region”, citing a senior administration official.

The workshop will take place in Manama, Bahrain, on 25 and 26 June, “bringing together finance ministers with global and regional business leaders”, the report revealed.

Senior White House adviser and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner told CNN that “people are letting their grandfathers’ conflict destroy their children’s futures. This will present an exciting, realistic and viable pathway forward that does not currently exist.”

The official who spoke to CNN said that the plan will have four main components: “infrastructure, industry, empowering and investing in people, and governance reforms”.

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The economic plan will include a “combination of grant money, low-interest loans and then also private capital”, a second senior administration told reporters yesterday.

However, the workshop will intentionally avoid “political issues”, including Palestinian statehood, the status of Jerusalem, and Palestinian refugees. “Finance ministers, but not foreign ministers, will be invited along with delegations of business leaders,” CNN pointed out.

“We recognize that this needs to go hand in hand with the political plan, but this will be the first chance to roll out details of the economic plan,” the first official said.

According to CNN, “the official denied that the rollout was being done this way so as to present a vision of a more prosperous Palestinian territory so as to encourage greater concessions in any political talks down the line.”

“It’s tough to digest both the economic and political proposals at once, since they’re both very detailed proposals,” the official said.

Responding yesterday, Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh, told CNN that the plan is “futile”.

“Any economic plan without political horizons will lead nowhere,” he said, adding, “Palestinians will not accept any proposals which do not include a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”

Other reports suggested that while the PA “is not expected to participate in the workshop”, a senior US official “said the White House invited a group of Palestinian businessmen and is expecting some of them to attend”.

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