Russia on Tuesday criticized a US-hosted economic workshop planned for next month in Bahrain, saying it was worried that Washington was attempting to use economic incentives to blur the principle of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The White House announced earlier this week it would co-host the June 25-26 meeting in Bahrain’s capital city of Manama and is expected to unveil the economic aspects of its long-awaited peace plan, with the declared aim of achieving Palestinian prosperity.
“The persistent desire to replace the task of achieving a comprehensive political solution with a package of economic ‘bonuses,’ blurring the principle of creating two states for two peoples, is of deep concern,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
America, Moscow said, is trying to “shift the priorities of the regional agenda and impose an ‘alternative vision’ of a Palestinian-Israeli settlement.”
The statement said Russia was reaffirming its commitment to “the inadmissibility of departing from the international legal framework of the Middle East settlement,” including “the principle of ‘peace for territories’ and the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002.”
The Arab initiative offered Jerusalem diplomatic relations with the entire Arab world in exchange for a “full Israeli withdrawal from all the Arab territories occupied since June 1967,” the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital, and a “just” and “agreed upon” solution to the Palestinian refugee question.
The White House is promoting the meeting in Bahrain as the first phase of its long-awaited peace plan, which envisions large-scale investment and infrastructure work, much of it funded by wealthy Arab countries, in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
US Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt has said Washington’s peace plan has the “potential to unlock a prosperous future for the Palestinians.”
But American officials say the Bahrain conference will not include the core political issues of the conflict: the borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, the fate of Palestinian refugees and their descendants, and Israeli security demands.
The Palestinian Authority has rejected a US invitation to participate in the summit over its omission of the core political issues from the agenda, and has vowed to boycott the confab.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cut ties with the Trump administration in 2017 after it recognized capital of Israel as Jerusalem, where Palestinians envision the capital of their future state.
On Monday, Abbas said Trump’s peace plan and economic workshop will “go to hell.”
Also, key American allies Egypt and Jordan have not announced plans to participate.
An administration delegation headed by US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner will travel this week to Jordan and then to Jerusalem, a White House official confirmed Tuesday, ahead of the Bahrain workshop.
The White House official said Kushner, along with Greenblatt, and Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, will travel to Rabat, Amman, and Jerusalem.
Agencies contributed to this report.