U.S. Won't Invite Israeli Officials to Bahrain Conference to Keep It From Being 'Political'

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Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner during their meeting in Jerusalem, May 30, 2019.
Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner during a meeting in Jerusalem, May 30, 2019. Credit: \ HANDOUT/ REUTERS

There will no official Israeli representation in the Trump administration's Bahrain economic conference, a White House official said, as Washington wants to keep the event from being "political."

Sources close to Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon confirmed to Haaretz that he will not be representing Israel in the workshop aimed at increasing investments in the Palestinian economy, despite earlier reports that he will attend. The Trump administration's decision was taken in coordination with Israel, according to Benjamin Netanyahu's office. 

As it stands, there is no official representation from Israel or the Palestinians but only individual businesspeople, as the Palestinian Authority is boycotting the event.

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The decision not to invite Israeli officials came on the same day that Jordan’s foreign minister expressed skepticism regarding the conference, saying that its importance should not be exaggerated.

In addition, the European Union announced that it will be represented by “technical level” officials at the conference. Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, also reiterated the union's commitment to a "political solution for the creation of a Palestinian state ... living side by side with the Israeli state, with a clear status for Jerusalem, and with respect to the international parameters that are clearly known."

On Monday, U.S. special envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt said that because Israel is headed for election in September, the administration may delay the publication of the peace plan to November 2019. 

Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar are expected to send official representation to the Bahrain workshop on June 25-26.

Palestinians rejected the initiative from the outset due to strained relations between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority. According to Palestinians leaders, they are not willing to make political concessions to gain material improvements.

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