WASHINGTON — Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates announced Wednesday that they will attend the international “workshop” on the Palestinian economy set for Bahrain next month, becoming the first two Arab countries to confirm their participation.
The Saudis will send their economy minister to the event, according to an official statement issued by the kingdom.
However, the main challenge for the administration still remains convincing these countries to actually invest large sums of money in the Palestinian arena, which will be necessary in order to advance infrastructure and economic projects.
The Palestinian Authority has already announced it won’t take part in the event, as have senior Palestinian business leaders from the private sector who were invited.
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The UAE government’s written statement said that it “supports all international efforts aimed at supporting economic progress and increasing opportunities in the region, and alleviating the suffering of people in the region, particularly our brothers in Palestine.”
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It also said that “the UAE reiterates its support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.”
On Tuesday, Bahrain's foreign minister also reiterated his country's support for "an independent [Palestinian] state with East Jerusalem as its capital," following criticism over his country's hosting of the Middle East peace conference.
The White House announced Sunday it will unveil the first phase of its long-awaited peace plan at the conference in Manama, saying it will focus on economic benefits that could be reaped if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved.
The plan envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries, in the Palestinian territories.
But officials say the conference will not include the core political issues of the conflict: final borders, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees or Israeli security demands.