US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) greets Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifah before a working lunch at the conference on Peace and Security in the Middle East in Warsaw, on February 14, 2019.
(photo credit: JANEK SKARZYNSKI / AFP)
A day after the US and Bahrain jointly issued a communique announcing an “economic workshop” in Manama in June – the first phase in the Trump administration’s rollout of its long-awaited peace plan – the US stressed that the “deal of the century” was not just an economic one, while Bahrain underlined that this particular meeting was.
“To those falsely claiming our vision is just economic peace: we’ve been clear that the economic vision we present can’t exist without the political component, and the political component can’t succeed without the economic,” Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, said in a tweet. “Don’t believe rumors the plan is only economic. It’s not.”
Bahrain’s Foreign Ministry issued a statement reiterating the country’s support for Palestinian statehood, and stressing that Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa said “the Kingdom’s hosting of the ‘Peace for Prosperity’ workshop is part of its efforts to empower the Palestinian people through developing their abilities and enhancing their resources. He stressed that the hosting of the workshop serves no other purpose.”
The statement “affirmed that the Kingdom of Bahrain’s official and popular position remains supportive of the brotherly Palestinian people in restoring their legitimate rights on their land as well as establishing an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital, in addition to supporting the Palestinian economy in bilateral and international forums.”
According to the statement, Khalifa “expressed sincere appreciation to the Palestinian leadership for its continued efforts and firm stances in protecting the rights of the brotherly Palestinian people and fulfilling their aspirations. He asserted that there is no way to doubt or belittle the peaceful approach of the Palestinian leadership, affirming that the Kingdom remains supportive of the Palestinian people.”
The Bahraini statement came after the Palestinian leadership dismissed the planned “economic workshop” in Bahrain and made clear they would boycott it.
This was the second statement in two days that Bahrain put out explaining its involvement in the conference. On Monday, the Foreign Ministry said that Bahrain “stands by all efforts that would lead to investment in infrastructure and the development of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and enable the Palestinian people to prosper.”
The purpose of the economic workshop, the statement said, is to “convene government, civil society and business leaders from across the region and the world. It will address the economic and investment needs of the Palestinian people, supporting the development of the region in general.”
That statement as well underlined “the close partnership” between Bahrain and the US, “stressing their common interest in promoting thriving economic opportunities in Palestine and the wider region.”
Jerusalem, meanwhile, continues to maintain complete silence on the matter, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu having made no comment as yet about the meeting, and the Prime Minister’s Office declining to say even if a formal invitation has been issued. Israel’s finance minister, however, is widely expected to attend.
The US and Bahrain issued a joint statement on Sunday announcing the workshop, saying it is “a pivotal opportunity to convene government, civil society, and business leaders to share ideas, discuss strategies, and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement.”
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