After long wait, some Israeli news outlets okayed to cover Bahrain summit
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After long wait, some Israeli news outlets okayed to cover Bahrain summit

No Israeli government officials to attend next week’s economic workshop, but handful of journalists to join businessmen and civil society members in Gulf state

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative: Israeli and foreign media at the scene of a Jerusalem terror attack on January 8, 2017. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israeli and foreign media at the scene of a Jerusalem terror attack on January 8, 2017. (Shlomi Cohen/Flash90)

Six Israeli media outlets on Wednesday received formal invitations to cover next week’s economic peace workshop in Bahrain, after weeks of uncertainty about the summit.

No Israeli officials were invited to the event, the US administration announced earlier this week, noting that, given then fact that Palestinian Authority refused to attend, the hosts did not want to politicize the event.

However, a number of Israeli businessmen and members of civil society organizations are expected to participate in the so-called Peace to Prosperity workshop.

Reporters had complained that organizers were not accrediting journalists to cover the conference, which is being hosted by the US and Bahrain in Manama early next week but has been plagued by uncertainty about who is attending.

A number of major news outlets in Israel were not invited to attend the summit despite requesting accreditation.

The invitations were sent out by RokkSolutions, a Washington DC-based strategic communications company, which was hired to deal with media accreditation for the Manama summit.

Besides The Times of Israel, also invited were correspondents from Haaretz, Jerusalem Post and Israel Hayom, as well as television channels 12 and 13.

Among the Israelis who will attend the workshop are Yoav “Polly” Mordechai, a former head of the Defense Ministry branch that is responsible for liaising with the Palestinians, and Professor Yitshak Kreiss, the director-general of Sheba Medical Center.

Next week’s Bahrain workshop is billed as the roll-out of the first part of the US administration’s forthcoming proposal for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

The second part, which deals with the political aspects of the conflict, will likely not be published toward the end of the year, as the White House said it wants to wait until after a new Israeli government is formed. The Knesset elections are scheduled for September 17, and it usually takes several weeks for coalition negotiations to conclude.

Israel and Bahrain do not have formal diplomatic relations.

Traffic and riot police divert traffic to ease congestion Sept. 21, 2011, along roads in the capital of Manama, Bahrain (AP Photo/Hasan Jamali)

Initially, US and Israeli officials indicated that high-ranking members of the Israeli government would be invited to the event as well. But earlier this week, the White House said that no Israeli officials would be present in Manama.

“Israeli businessmen will be represented there, since it’s not a political meeting,” Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s Middle East envoy, told i24NEWS this week.

“Without the Palestinian Authority there, having the Israeli government there makes it more political. Our mission is really about unveiling the economic plan, showing it to the countries that would donate money down the road, if there were interested, showing it to the Palestinian people. There will be a time when we can benefit from the Israeli government expertise and knowledge. It doesn’t have to be next week.”

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the “important conference” in Bahrain, praising the US for trying to “bring about a better future” for the Middle East.

“Israelis will be present as well,” he added without providing further details.

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