Palestinian Authority Declines Invitation to Attend Middle East Conference in Warsaw

PA's decision not to participate in next week's conference is in line with its policy of not engaging with the Trump administration

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas and his Austrian counterpart attend a joint press conference following their meeting in the West Bank city of Ramallah on February 5, 2019.

The Palestinian Authority has been invited to send representatives to the international conference on the Middle East that will take place next week in Warsaw, according to American and Polish officials. However, Palestinian officials said on Friday that they will not attend the event. 

It’s not clear when the invitation was submitted, since in recent days the Palestinian leadership stated it did not receive an invitation, and U.S. media outlets also reported that the conference will include Israel and Arab countries, but not the PA. The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said on Friday that the PA will not participate.

On Friday morning, a Polish government official said the PA had been invited. Hours later, a U.S. official said the same in a State Department press briefing. “We have asked the Palestinian Authority to send representatives to this event,” the American official said, noting that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, “is also confirmed to participate. He will discuss the administration’s efforts to advance peace between Israelis and Palestinians.”

Erekat wrote on Twitter that the conference was an attempt at destroying Palestinian nationalism and that the Palestinian position remains clear.

The PA's decision not to participate is in line with its policy of not engaging with the Trump administration. There have been no official contacts between the administration and the PA ever since Trump announced the moving of the American embassy in Israel to Jerusalem in December 2017. Trump claimed that the move “took Jerusalem off the table.”

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Following the summit, Jared Kushner will visit the Middle East at the end of February to discuss the economic aspects of the President’s peace plan. Kushner will be accompanied by Trump’s special envoy to the region, Jason Greenblatt, on a visit that will include stops in at least five Arab countries.

This will be Kushner’s first visit to the region since the administration announced it will delay the presentation of the peace plan until the end of the Israeli election.

Kushner and Greenblatt will meet with the rulers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates –three countries that could play a key role in supporting efforts to strengthen the Palestinian economy.

A similar visit by Kushner and Greenblatt to these countries last summer, focused on supporting economic projects in the Gaza Strip, together with Egypt. It’s still unclear, however, if these countries will agree to support economic projects without knowing the full details of the peace plan, which haven’t yet been published.