Israel will Attend Trump’s Peace Conference in Bahrain
2019-06-17 - 4:47 p
Bahrain Mirror (Exclusive): Israel will attend the US-led Mideast conference in Bahrain slated for June 25-26, officials announced Sunday.
"Israel will be at the Bahrain conference," Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Channel 13 News. Katz made his remarks on the sidelines of a conference in New York sponsored by Israeli daily the Jerusalem Post.
"Israel has a significant role to play in promoting ties with pragmatic Arab countries in the region," he said.
According to Katz, the main part of these efforts will be the planned Bahrain Peace to Prosperity economic workshop.
It remains unclear if Israeli officials are invited. With just over a week to go before the conference, Israel's Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has yet to be formally invited, but he is expected to represent Israel "if an Israeli delegation is present," said one Israeli official who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic.
Israel Katz, the foreign minister, clearly believes they should have a seat at the table. "Israel, with its experience and capabilities can participate in these efforts and contribute in different fields of interest," Katz said Sunday in a speech at a New York conference.
A person involved with the conference organization, who declined to be named when discussing invitees, said no Israeli government delegation has been invited, but that business people have been.
Also in question is whether Israeli media coverage will be able allowed.
In an interview in New York, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said he "appreciated" the efforts of the U.S. administration.
Danon said that the U.S. rejection of the Iran nuclear deal has brought Arab countries and Israel closer together. "Everybody understands Iran is not only talking about chaos, it's bringing chaos," he said.
He said it was "worthwhile" to look at the U.S. peace plans. "We need fresh ideas, we need to think out of the box," he said. While previous thinking was that normalization with Arab countries would come after a peace deal, today Israel feels there is a "different equation" and that cooperation can lead to a peace process.
"Today we have very good quiet relations with many of those countries," he said. "It's definitely brought us together."
Greenblatt on Sunday said that it was a "milestone achievement" to hold the summit in Bahrain.
He dismissed criticism that the White House is simply focused on "economic peace" and said that the fact that Israel is holding an unprecedented second election, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a coalition government, had complicated the roll out of the political portion of the plan.
The workshop, scheduled for June 25-26, will reportedly be headed by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's senior White House adviser and son-in-law, and his Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt.
U.S. Middle East peace envoy Jason Greenblatt said the intention was to highlight what the Palestinian economy could look like if there was a peace agreement.
Palestinian officials, who are refusing to attend, accuse the Trump administration of trying to buy off their political demands for a state and an end to Israeli occupation. They say the Trump cannot act as an honest peace broker after moves such as cutting aid and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital.
A senior White House official said that four Arab states - the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and host country Bahrain - have all stated that they will be participating in the conference. Israeli delegates were largely forced to cancel a visit to Bahrain for an entrepreneurship meeting earlier this year after a local backlash.