Saudi Arabia and the UAE will take part in the ‘Peace for the Sake of Prosperity’ economic workshop in Bahrain next month.
The gathering will herald President Donald Trump’s much anticipated peace plan.
The two-day event, June 25-26, has been organised with cooperation from the United States.
Saudi Press Agency confirmed Minister of Economy and Planning Mohammed bin Mazyad Al-Tuwaijri will participate but the Palestinian Authority will not attend.
A Saudi spokesman said the minister’s attendance illustrated the Kingdom’s position in support of the Palestinian people to yield security, stability and prosperity for the region in general.
UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation said the Emirates supported international efforts for economic progress and increased opportunities in the region.
A statement noted participation is not in conflict with the UAE position on the issue of Palestine.
It added, “Such efforts will only advance and support a political solution that culminates in lasting and comprehensive peace between the Palestinians and Israelis.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh claimed the Palestinian Authority had not been informed about the conference.
“There will be no Palestinian participation in the Manama workshop,” said Ahhmed Majdalani, Palestinian social development Minister. “Any Palestinian who would take part would be nothing but a collaborator for the Americans and Israel.”
In a joint statement with Bahrain announcing the workshop, the White House said the gathering would offer government, civil and business leaders the opportunity to rally support for economic initiatives possible with a peace agreement.
“The Palestinian people, along with all people in the Middle East, deserve a future with dignity and the opportunity to better their lives,” said Jared Kushner. “Economic progress can only be achieved with a solid economic vision and if the core political issues are resolved.”
Bahrain meantime has defended its decision to host the conference.
Foreign Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa tweeted his country respected safeguarding Palestinian rights.
But there is an unease among some Gulf Arab leaders publicly developing growing ties with Israel.
Civil society groups in Bahrain protested to a visit by an Israeli delegation to a global entrepreneurship summit on social media recently but Trump’s administration have positively lobbied Arab states including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.
Infrastructure development in Palestinian territories is tabled but efforts by Trump, Kushner, and Jason Greenblatt during negotiations have not included participation from Palestinians.
US-based Rabbi Marc Schneier, appointed special adviser by Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, praised the Gulf leader for establishing relations with Israel and bringing other states onboard.
Schneier claims King Hamad told him the only hope for a strong, moderate Arab voice in the Gulf is a strong Israel. And the king had sent an interfaith delegation to Jerusalem shortly the US Embassy move to Jerusalem.
“It’s not a question of Bahrain being a participant, they have led this effort, at least since I’ve known the king for eight years,” Schneier noted.
The conference will not address contentious issues including borders, status of Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees or Israel’s security.
By Leah Waxler