Bahraini Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al-Khalifa (Stringer/AFP/Getty Images)

Arab States to Attend American ‘Workshop’ in Bahrain

Saudi Arabia, UAE announce they will participate in meeting aimed at fostering economic incentives for Israeli-Palestinian peace

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have announced that they will participate in the United States “workshop” in Bahrain titled “Peace for Prosperity.” It will be held on June 25-26 in Manama, the capital of Bahrain, as part of US President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Israel has confirmed that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will attend. However, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is boycotting the conference, as senior officials in Ramallah have condemned and criticized the US move, adding that they regard the participating countries as “collaborators” in an attempt to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause.

“The conference in Bahrain is like bait; it has been promoted economically, but it carries more than that,” Moeen al-Taher, a Jordanian political analyst and expert on Palestinian-Israeli affairs, told The Media Line.

Taher explained that the US administration was forcing a new situation through economic investments.

“Even if the PA refuses the [American] project, the US will work it out,” he stated.

He said he expected the Trump Administration to approach the Palestinian people and turn them against their own government, taking advantage of the poor economy in the West Bank.

“It will tempt the people with economic prosperity,” he said.

He added that Saudi Arabia would be funding these investments in return for turning world hostility toward Iran.

“I assume that Egypt will participate as well,” he said.

In a statement published on Tuesday, the UAE Foreign Ministry said the country stood with all international efforts aimed at bringing stability to the region and enhancing economic growth opportunities, as well as alleviating the difficult conditions experienced by many nations, especially the Palestinian people.

The ministry said it believed that “the objectives of the workshop revolve around seeking a framework that would ensure a prosperous future for the region and constitutes the ultimate objective to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, in addition to enabling them to live in stability.”

The statement affirmed the UAE’s “political position of establishing an independent Palestinian state, with east Jerusalem as its capital,” and noted that the efforts of development and prosperity did not conflict with this position but rather “promote and push for political solutions for a lasting and comprehensive peace between Palestinians and Israelis.”

Qassem Qasser, a Lebanese political analyst, clarified to The Media Line that the US administration and the Gulf states introduced the workshop in Bahrain from an economic perspective in an attempt to provide an incentive to accept the political solution they have in mind for the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

“In any case, recently the Gulf states have not concealed their relations with Israel and the US under the [guide] of fighting Iran,” he said.

Regarding the PA position, Qasser added that based on documents recently published in Beirut, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas had been offered $10 billion by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to accept the American project.

“Moreover, he was threatened that if he rejected the deal, he would be replaced by Mohammed Dahlan,” he said, referring to one of Abbas’s political opponents.

He pointed out that the Gulf states were serving the American project without giving any attention to the PA, which means that if the PA doesn’t work with them, a new government would be formed in the West Bank to do so.

“The most important thing for the Gulf states is to fight Iran. Thereafter, they need the American administration [because it is in their] best interest to end the Palestinian cause,” Qasser elaborated. “One of Iran’s strong points is that it supports the Palestinian cause, as well as the resistance there.”

Meanwhile, Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, stressed that hosting the US conference was the first step toward implementing the so-called deal of the century, which comes as part of Manama’s support of the Palestinian people.

The minister stressed in a series of tweets on his personal account on Tuesday that Bahrain’s serving as host was just “a continuation of its ongoing support of the Palestinian people to enhance their capabilities and strengthen their resources to achieve their legitimate aspirations.”

The US and Bahrain announced that Manama would host the economic workshop to encourage investment in the Palestinian territories as a first step in a plan to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Washington is expected to put billions of dollars on the table earmarked for projects in the Palestinian territories and aid for nations in the region.

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