US says Jordan, Egypt and Morocco to attend economic workshop in Bahrain

Three Arab countries join the already confirmed UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia; Jordanian king reportedly says his country ‘should attend’

Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on March 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)
Jordan's King Abdullah II (R) and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi at Queen Alia International Airport in Amman on March 28, 2017. (AFP Photo/Khalil Mazraawi)

Jordan, Egypt and Morocco have informed US President Donald Trump’s administration that they will participate in the upcoming American-sponsored economic workshop in Bahrain, a senior White House official said Tuesday.

The announcement ends weeks of uncertainty over whether Jordan and Egypt, the only two Middle Eastern Arab countries Israel has diplomatic ties with, would participate in the conference, and may pave the way for Israel to be invited as well.

“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 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 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.

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

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.

Senior White House aide Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and a key architect of the peace gambit, was quoted telling Palestinian news outlet al-Quds earlier Tuesday that Egypt, Jordan and Morocco would attend the conference.

Jordanian King Abdullah said earlier on Tuesday that Jordan should attend the economic workshop in Manama, Ammon News, an Amman-based news site, reported.

“His majesty referred to the necessity of Jordan being present at international conferences about the Palestinian issue, whether that is the Bahrain conference or elsewhere, so that we can listen and remain knowledgeable of what is taking place,” the Ammon News report said, without attributing the comments to a named or unnamed source.

Abdullah made the comment in a meeting with former ministers and media and political personalities, according to Ammon News.

There was no immediate comment from Cairo or Rabat.

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