Bahrain is set to host the so-called “Peace to Prosperity” workshop to discuss what the United States has described as the economic part of President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century”, his proposal for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The Palestinian leadership is boycotting the meeting on June 25 and 26 in Manama, leading critics to question the credibility of the event.
According to the White House, the meeting “will facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region”.
Here are the latest updates:
Tuesday, June 25
Bolton warns Iran against disrupting Bahrain conference
US National Security Advisor John Bolton warned Iran against disrupting the Bahrain conference on Middle East peace, amid soaring tensions between Washington and Tehran.
“Iran has engaged over the past couple of months in a long series of unprovoked and unjustifiable attacks,” Bolton said.
Kushner: Israel-Palestine deal won’t follow Arab Peace Initiative
“In that kind of environment, threatening the conference in Bahrain is always a possibility,” Bolton said during a visit to Jerusalem. “It would be a big mistake for Iran to continue this kind of behaviour.”
He said the Palestinian boycott of the conference was also “a mistake”.
“The thing that makes it unique is the economic aspect of it. The prospects for Palestinians, for Israelis, for everybody in the region if we could find an acceptable agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is incredibly bright. And rather than re-litigate decades of disputes, think about the future and negotiate on that basis.
“So we’ll see how it goes. I think we’re optimistic. I think the president’s optimistic and I hope the Palestinians are optimistic, too.”
Palestinians protest US-led Bahrain conference
Palestinians staged rallies across the West Bank in protest of the US-led conference in Bahrain.
Demonstrators gathered in Hebron in the southern West Bank, waving banners decrying the conference and participation of Arab delegates.
Similar rallies were held in the cities of Bethlehem, Jenin, Nablus, Tulkarm, Salfit, Qalqilia and Jericho.
In the Gaza Strip, Palestinians staged a general strike.
“Any plan that includes the liquidation of the Palestinian cause … is rejected by the Palestinians and is not debatable or negotiable,” Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive committee, said in a statement.
“Our right to self-determination, freedom, and independence should be honoured through the implementation of UN resolutions and international law. This is the only way to peace and prosperity.”
Saudi finance minister spearheads delegation
The Saudi delegation is led by Finance Minister Mohammed al-Jadaan and includes the governor of the sovereign wealth Public Investment Fund, state news agency SPA said.
Saudi participation reaffirms the kingdom’s “firm position to support the Palestinian people to achieve their stability and growth”, it said.
Under the Kushner plan, donor nations and investors would contribute about $50bn to the region with $28bn going to the Palestinian territories – the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip – as well as $7.5bn to Jordan, $9bn to Egypt and $6bn for Lebanon.
Hamas official Mushir al-Masri said the Trump approach “seeks to turn our political cause into a humanitarian cause, and to merge the occupation into the region”.
US to unveil ‘economy first’ approach to peace plan
The first stage of President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan will be launched in Bahrain at a conference the White House touts as a bid to drum up $50bn in investment – but which Palestinians deride as an “economy first” approach doomed to fail.
The two-day international meeting, led by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, has been billed as the first part of Washington’s long-delayed broader political blueprint to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, to be unveiled at a later date.
But neither the Israeli nor Palestinian governments will attend the curtain-raising event in the Bahraini capital, Manama.
Palestinians denounce US’s peace plan before Manama event
There will be close scrutiny as to whether attendees such as Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf Arab states show any interest in making actual donations to a US plan that has already elicited bitter criticism from Palestinians and many others in the Arab world.
Monday, June 24:
Morocco to send ministry staff member
Morocco’s foreign ministry said a member of the ministry of economy and finance will represent the country at the two-day conference.
The foreign ministry did not offer further details on the identity of the finance ministry staff member, but said the kingdom remains attached to the two-state solution.
On Sunday, thousands took to the streets of Rabat to express their opposition to the Middle East peace plan.
Kushner to Al Jazeera: Bahrain conference will be ‘a success’
Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a White House senior adviser, has told Al Jazeera he is confident the two-day workshop will be successful.
“I think it’s already been a success in the sense that we have every country coming from the region, we have many countries coming from throughout the world, despite people who tried to get them not to come, they’re all coming and that’s a very big first step,” he said in an exclusive interview.
“The second step is that we’ve been able to get some of the top investors and people from throughout the world to come, who are showing interest in helping the Palestinian people in the region,” he added.
Kushner also said it will not be possible to solve the decades-long Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a deal that adhered to the Arab Peace Initiative.
“I think we all have to recognise that if there ever is a deal, it’s not going to be along the lines of the Arab peace initiative. It will be somewhere between the Arab peace initiative and between the Israeli position,” he added.
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Palestinians say Kushner peace plan won’t solve their problems
Palestinians denounce US’s peace plan before Manama event
Hundreds of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank protested against the US’s Middle East peace plan.
In central Ramallah, demonstrators raised Palestinian flags and held signs condemning the US-led initiative and the Arab countries taking part in it.
“Participating in the Bahrain workshop is collusion with the occupation,” one of the signs read. “Our national constants are: independence for the state of Palestine, al-Quds (Jerusalem) is our eternal capital, the right of refugees to return to their lands,” read another.
Read more here.
Palestinian PM: Economic plan is ‘nonsense’
Mohammad Shtayyeh, the Palestinian prime minister, called the US economic plan “nonsense”.
“We have realised that this economic workshop in Bahrain is going to be really of nonsense, it is just simply a theoretical piece of work calling for $50bn,” Shtayyeh said.
“We don’t know where this money is going to come from but we know that the economic problem in Palestine has to do with all the Israeli measures.
“I have not seen in the document any reference to the occupation, I have not seen in the document any reference to settlements, we have not seen in the document any reference to ending occupation. This workshop is simply a political laundry for settlements and a legitimatisation of occupation,” the prime minister said at a cabinet meeting in Ramallah.
Analysts react to Kushner plan
Analysts have criticised the economic part of the US’s peace plan for failing to address the main problem that has heavily curbed the Palestinian economy – the 52-year-old Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories.
The economic plan was released by the White House on Saturday and is set to be presented during the US-led workshop in Bahrain on June 25-26.
When the document was released, many noticed that the 40-page plan was void of any political context and of any mention of the words “occupation”, “freedom”, “equality” and “blockade”.
US reveals $50bn investment proposal
The US has revealed a proposal to create a $50bn global investment fund for the Palestinians and neighbouring Arab states, designed to be the economic engine of the long-awaited US Middle East peace plan.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday rejected it and the US peace effort, which is led by President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner.
The 10-year plan calls for projects worth $6.3bn for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as $27.5bn in the West Bank and Gaza, $9.1bn in Egypt and $7.4bn in Jordan.