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Egypt to join controversial Bahrain summit on Palestinian economy despite boycott calls

Cairo confirmed a delegation will attend the controversial summit [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 June, 2019

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An Egyptian delegation headed by a deputy finance minister will participate in a Bahrain summit on Palestinian economic development, Cairo confirmed.

Egypt’s deputy finance minister will head an official delegation at an upcoming Bahrain summit this month, the state news agency MENA quoted the foreign ministry spokesman as saying on Saturday.

The controversial “peace to prosperity” economic summit will be held in Manama on June 25-26 and is expected to unveil a $50 billion “peace to prosperity” plan presented by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.

In a step likely to outrage Palestinian leaders, the US said that money would be administered by a multinational development bank as a way to ensure better governance and prevent corruption.

The Palestinian Authority is boycotting the two-day conference - dubbed the Peace to Prosperity Workshop - that opens on Tuesday, charging that pro-Israel Trump is seeking to buy the Palestinians and deprive them of an independent state.

Comment: Why is the Trump administration afraid of Hanan Ashrawi?

"Peace to Prosperity represents the most ambitious and comprehensive international effort for the Palestinian people to date," the plan released by the White House Saturday said.

The White House cast the plan - to be discussed in more detail in Bahrain with finance chiefs of oil-rich Gulf Arab states - as historic.

Trump's son-in-law and senior aide Jared Kushner spent more than two years working on the plan, which was also crafted by Jason Greenblatt, the American president's Middle East envoy.

The Palestinian leadership is deeply distrustful of Kushner, a family friend of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

Rejected by Palestinians 

The Bahrain conference is seen as a betrayal by Palestinians and a symbol of Arabs endorsing the US' plan for the future of the Middle East, despite the Trump administration's notorious support of Israel's illegal occupation and annexation of East Jerusalem.

Palestinian factions have come together to host their own summit to discuss the future of Palestine, in a meeting that will take place at the exact same time as Bahrain’s Deal of the Century conference on 25-26 June.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Hamas will attend the summit in Lebanon's capital city, in what is an apparent snub to the upcoming Manama summit.

The Bahrain conference will focus on economic issues and is backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE, despite a Palestinian boycott. Palestinians say they were not consulted about the conference.

The plan has been widely rejected by Palestinians because of Trump’s previous recognition of Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem and expectations that the plan will recognise Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank.

Egypt and Jordan's participation at the Bahrain meeting is considered particularly important because they have historically been key players in Middle East peace efforts and are the only Arab states that have peace treaties with Israel.

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