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Netanyahu welcomes Bahrain meeting, Israeli ex-general to attend

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives an address from his office in Jerusalem on 3 April 2019, announcing that the remains of Sergeant First Class Zachary Baumel, a soldier missing since the 1982 Lebanon war, had been returned to the country. [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP/Getty Images]

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised on Tuesday a US-led conference on the Palestinian economy in Bahrain, and a source said a former Israeli general would be among the participants, reports Reuters.

Netanyahu, echoing remarks on Sunday by his foreign minister, said Israelis would take part in the June 25-26 gathering, but did not identify them.

The White House decided against including the Israeli government in the June 25-26 event in Manama after the Palestinians boycotted it, making do instead with inviting a small Israeli business delegation.

US officials have not formally announced those delegates.

READ: Israel to be at US-led Bahrain peace workshop

“A very important conference, which we welcome, will be held in Bahrain very soon – a US effort to bring about a better future and solve the region’s problems,” Netanyahu said in a speech on Tuesday. “Israelis will be present, of course.”

A person briefed on the gathering said Yoav Mordechai, a former general who served as Israel’s chief liaison officer to the Palestinians, will attend in a private capacity.

Israel Radio said an Israeli hospital director and several Israeli social activists were also expected to participate.

Mordechai stepped down as head of Israel’s military-run COGAT liaison agency last year and now heads Novard, an international consultancy.

He will be joined in Manama by his Novard partner, the source said, declining to identify the second man by name as he is also a veteran of Israel’s security services.

Reached by phone, Novard declined to comment.

READ: PLO calls for a boycott of US-led economic workshop in Bahrain

Known to Israelis and Palestinians alike by his nickname Poly, the Arabic-fluent Mordechai was a dominant force in Israel’s efforts to coordinate security in the occupied West Bank and stave off fighting with the Gaza Strip’s Islamist Hamas rulers.

The United States has billed the Bahrain gathering as a workshop to boost the Palestinian economy as part of a broader effort by President Donald Trump’s administration to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders have spurned the conference, alleging pro-Israeli bias from Washington and saying the still unpublished US peace plan falls short of their goal of statehood.

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