US President Donald Trump meets with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office of the White House on March 20, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi, Emirati Reps to Attend US Peace ‘Workshop’ in Bahrain

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first Sunni Muslim countries to confirm that they will send representatives to the US “workshop” in Bahrain from June 25-26. The White House earlier this week announced the gathering, at which it will present the economic elements of President Donald Trump’s highly anticipated Israeli-Palestinian peace plan. Israel has indicated that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon will attend. The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the confab. Senior officials in Ramallah have uniformly denounced the US move, adding that they view participating countries as “collaborators” in an attempt to “liquidate” the Palestinian cause. In response, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi reiterated their staunch support for the creation of a Palestinian state, with the eastern part of Jerusalem as its capital, and stressed that the upcoming summit’s sole aim was to improve the economic situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Indeed, the US and Bahrain issued a joint statement that the conference’s purpose was to “share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.” To this end, Washington is expected to put billions of dollars on the table earmarked for projects in the Palestinian territories and aid to regional nations. Nevertheless, the Trump Administration has come under fire for its decision to shelve, at least for now, the more contentious political aspects of its peace proposal that address “core” issues such as the delineation of borders and the future status of Jerusalem. This prompted Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, Jason Greenblatt, to tweet: We’ve been clear that the economic vision we present can’t exist without the political component, and the political component can’t succeed without the economic.”

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