Backing Palestinian boycott, Lebanon rejects Bahrain economic meet

Not known if Beirut received an invite; foreign minister says wants to have clear idea of peace plan; statement comes after US says Jordan, Egypt and Morocco confirmed attendance

Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil delivers a press conference in Paris, November 14, 2017. (AFP/Lionel BONAVENTURE)
Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil delivers a press conference in Paris, November 14, 2017. (AFP/Lionel BONAVENTURE)

Lebanon on Tuesday rejected the upcoming American-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain, hours after Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco informed US President Donald Trump’s administration that they will participate in the conference.

“We will not participate in the Bahrain conference because the Palestinians are not participating and we prefer to have a clear idea about the proposed plan for peace,” said Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil. “We were not consulted regarding [the plan].”

It is not known if Lebanon was in fact invited to the workshop.

The statement came after a senior White House official said Jordan, Egypt and Morocco had informed the administration they would send representatives to Manama.

“Morocco, Jordan, and Egypt have told us that they are attending,” the senior US official told The Times of Israel on condition of anonymity.

The United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia announced in May that they would participate in the conference in Manama.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II, right, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi listen to their national anthems during a welcome ceremony for the latter at the Queen Alia International Airport in Amman, on March 28, 2017, ahead of talks on the eve of the Arab League summit. (AFP/Khalil Mazraawi)

The US administration and Bahrain announced in mid-May that they would host an economic workshop in the Bahraini capital of Manama on June 25 and 26 that “will facilitate discussions on an ambitious, achievable vision and framework for a prosperous future for the Palestinian people and the region.”

American officials have said that the meeting will deal with the economic portion of its apparently forthcoming plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a plan whose unveiling has been delayed by political instability inside Israel.  The contours of the plan, including whether it includes eventual statehood for the Palestinians, remain murky.

The US has been attempting to rally support for the conference, which has come under criticism for seemingly placing economic issues ahead of reaching a political solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

The Palestinians have firmly rejected the conference; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has said the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership will not attend the conference nor accept its results.

A view of the Manama skyline, Bahrain. (CC-BY Jayson De Leon/Wikimedia Commons)

“Whoever wants to resolve the Palestinian issue should start with the political issue, then the political issue, then the political issue and then he can talk about the illusions of billions that they say they will present [to us],” Abbas said in late May.

Israel has reportedly not yet received an invite. According to an Israeli report this week, US officials wanted to clinch enough Arab participation, particularly that of Egypt and Jordan, before bringing Israel in.

If invited, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon would likely represent Jerusalem.

Most Popular
read more: