The White House does not plan to invite Israeli government officials to a Bahrain conference devoted to gaining support for a Palestinian economic revitalization plan to keep the event apolitical, a senior administration official said on Monday.Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official said Palestinian business representatives are expected to attend the event in Manama later this month, but not Palestinian Authority government officials, who have boycotted the peace initiative led by White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.With the economic workshop set to begin next Tuesday, Jerusalem has made no formal announcement about who would be coming from Israel.Although it was widely expected that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon would represent Israel at the meeting – to be attended by finance ministers and businessmen from around the Arab world – Reuters quoted a source as saying that Israel would send a business delegation but no government officials.The meeting, formally billed as the “Peace to Prosperity” economic workshop, is aimed at laying out the economic benefits that would accrue from a broader Israel-Palestinian peace agreement.Foreign Minister Israel Katz tweeted on Monday that “Israel will be represented at the Bahrain economic workshop in a way that will be determined later.”Speaking at the Jerusalem Post Conference on Sunday, Katz said that Israel “has a key role to play in this process.”
With its experience and capabilities, Katz added, Israel can “participate in these efforts and contribute in different fields of interest, among them modern technology, energy, innovation and even transportation.”Though there will naturally be a great deal of interest in Israel in the conference, no press accreditation process for Israeli journalists has been started. Media coverage of the event is expected to be limited, apparently at the request of the Bahrainis.Jason Greenblatt, one of the architects of the workshop, said at the Jerusalem Post Conference that the summit “is aimed to show what could happen to the Palestinian economy if there’s a peace agreement. We understand completely that there is no economic vision that’ll work without a peace agreement. But we also want to make the point that there will be no peace agreement that works without true economic vision. We’re trying to break the cycle of aid and dependence and create an economy. They work hand in hand.”The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the conference and has urged the Arab countries invited to do the same. US Ambassador David Friedman said earlier this month in a New York Times interview that Palestinian officials were also placing “massive pressure” on Palestinian businesspeople not to attend the parley.“There is almost no Palestinian business leader that wants to refrain from meeting with some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, when the topic of the discussion is limited to giving money to the Palestinians,” he said. “I know firsthand they want to come.”
Reuters contributed to this report.