Egypt, Jordan say they’ll attend Bahrain workshop, but not at ministerial level
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Egypt, Jordan say they’ll attend Bahrain workshop, but not at ministerial level

Ahead of this week’s Palestinian-boycotted meet, Amman reiterates that economic proposal cannot replace political solution

(From L to R) The foreign ministers of Egypt Sameh Shukri, Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir, the UAE Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Jordan Ayman Safadi, Bahrain Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa and Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah, pose for a picture during the Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss regional issues on January 31, 2019 in the Hussein bin Talal convention centre in the Dead Sea.  (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)
(From L to R) The foreign ministers of Egypt Sameh Shukri, Saudi Arabia Adel al-Jubeir, the UAE Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Jordan Ayman Safadi, Bahrain Khaled bin Ahmad al-Khalifa and Kuwait Sheikh Sabah Khaled al-Hamad al-Sabah, pose for a picture during the Arab foreign ministers meeting to discuss regional issues on January 31, 2019 in the Hussein bin Talal convention centre in the Dead Sea. (Khalil MAZRAAWI / AFP)

CAIRO, Egypt — Jordan and Egypt said Saturday they will send officials from their finance ministries to take part in an economic conference in Bahrain on a US-led Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman Ahmed Hafez told AFP that Cairo will send a delegation headed by a deputy finance minister to the meeting – due to take place in Manama on June 25 and 26 – without specifying the name.

In Jordan, foreign ministry spokesman Sufyan al-Qudah confirmed to journalists that his country will dispatch the secretary general to the finance ministry, again without giving a name.

Qudah insisted however that “no economic proposal could replace a political solution that ends the occupation” of Palestinian territories by Israel.

The White House said on June 12 that Egypt, Morocco and Jordan agreed to attend the workshop.

But Jordan and Egypt — the only Arab countries to have signed peace deals with Israel — did not immediately confirm they would take part in the Bahrain meeting.

According to Axios, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman al-Safadi has attempted to downplay the significance of the conference. “Let’s not exaggerate the significance of the Bahrain workshop. It’s a workshop,” the news site quoted him as saying earlier this week.

Morocco has not yet confirmed its intentions.

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the two-day conference — dubbed the Peace to Prosperity Workshop — charging that pro-Israel US President Donald Trump is seeking to buy the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israelis would attend.

“An important conference will soon be held in Bahrain and Israelis will of course participate,” he said this week.

The White House announced earlier this week that invitations to Jerusalem would be limited to business leaders, rather than government officials.

US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner, right, meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, on June 22, 2018. (Matty Stern/US Embassy Jerusalem/Flash90)

Gulf powerhouses Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates last month welcomed the economic conference.

Riyadh said it would dispatch Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed al-Tuwaijri to the meeting.

It added the participation reaffirms the kingdom’s “firm position to support the Palestinian people to achieve their stability and growth”, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

Abu Dhabi’s foreign ministry said it would send a delegation, while reiterating that it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with east Jerusalem as its capital.

It remains unclear whether Qatar — isolated by regional former allies, including Bahrain, in a long-running diplomatic dispute — will attend the conference.

Doha, a close US ally, said it “has followed the call by the United States” to hold a workshop in Manama, according to a foreign ministry statement.

It added it will “spare no effort” to address challenges facing the Arab region but did not say whether Qatar will be represented at the meeting.

Kuwait and Oman have not confirmed if they will attend.

The White House economic peace proposal unveiled on its web site on Saturday June 22, 2019 (Screencapture)

The US said Saturday that its Middle East peace plan aims to raise more than $50 billion (44 billion euros) for the Palestinians and create one million jobs for them.

In a move likely to deepen its rift with the Palestinians, the White House said that money would be administered by a multinational development bank — not the Palestinian Authority — as a way to ensure better governance and prevent corruption.

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