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Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (front R) arrives with Arab leaders Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed (front L), Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince of Bahrain, and Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, Governor of Makkah Region, at the opening of the Mohamed Najib military base.(Photo by: THE EGYPTIAN PRESIDENCY/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Jordan, Morocco and Egypt to attend Bahrain workshop
Despite Palestinian boycott of the workshop, key Arab-states announced they will attend the event.
Jordan, Egypt and Morocco will join Saudi Arabia and Gulf States at a Bahrain summit on June 25-26 aimed at supporting the Palestinian economy, reports indicated on Wednesday. The meeting has been boycotted by the Palestinian Authority because it is thought to form the foundation for the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century.”

The Kingdom of Jordan is attending so as not to be left out of the important discussions. It also appears to have decided to attend because of the growing consensus in the region on the conference. Although Iran has harshly opposed Bahrain hosting the event, accusing Saudi Arabia and Bahrain of being traitors involved in a US “plot,” Riyadh’s stature has added legitimacy to the event. It comes in the wake of three successful summits in Mecca in late May that paid some lip service to supporting the Palestinians, but also dovetailed with Washington’s line on Iranian threats.

Jordan has been consistently opposed to any change in the peace process, supporting the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital. It has condemned the US recognition of Jerusalem and moving the embassy last year, and has reiterated its role as custodian of the Islamic and Christian holy sites.

King Abdullah was frequently in contact with the Trump administration in 2017 over concerns about US policy changes on the peace process. In Manama in October 2018, Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that a one-state solution would be a “moral disaster.” Jordan was also indirectly critical of Oman’s recent opening to Israel, both in Manama and at a Dead Sea World Economic Forum confab on April 7.

But the kingdom hosted Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner in late May, when he and Mideast negotiator Jason Greenblatt flew to Morocco and then Jordan on their way to Israel.

Jordan has quietly expressed increasing concern about the “Deal of the Century” in the last months, but it is also worried about being left out of the Bahrain meeting. Jordan’s society and economy are linked to the West Bank, and it is concerned that any fallout from the US peace plan could cause instability. That includes recent comments by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman about Israel possibly retaining parts of the West Bank.

Jordan warned Israel on Wednesday about violations on the Temple Mount and al-Aqsa mosque area in Jerusalem, according to Jordan’s Petra News Agency, and an op-ed in the Jordanian newspaper al-Ghad slammed the US “Deal of the Century.”

The king celebrated the 103rd anniversary of the Great Arab Revolt on June 10, which was launched in the Hejaz by Sharif Hussein bin Ali against the Ottoman Empire, perhaps waiting until the day after to announce attendance at the Bahrain summit to emphasize that it would attend as a unifying gesture for the Arab region, as it once played host to the WWI Arab revolt that set the region on the road to independence.

Jordan faces numerous challenges, including 1.4 million refugees from the eight-year-old Syrian civil war and economic austerity. If the Bahrain summit – with the International Monetary Fund in attendance – can drum up financial support, it could be a key to aiding the Hashemite kingdom as well. By attending, Amman is showing that it won’t be left out while other countries in the Gulf – as well as Egypt and Morocco – take part.
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