Palestinians Urge Egypt, Jordan to Reconsider Going to U.S.-Led Conference

RAMALLAH (Reuters) -
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas attending a summit between Arab league and European Union member states, in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. (Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany, File)

Palestinians urged Egypt and Jordan on Wednesday to reconsider their attendance at a U.S.-led conference on June 25-26 in Bahrain, voicing concern it would weaken any Arab opposition to Washington’s coming peace plan.

The United States has billed the gathering as a workshop to boost the Palestinian economy as part of a broader diplomatic effort widely referred to as President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” to address the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Palestinian leaders, who are boycotting the meeting, say the still unpublished plan falls short of their goal of statehood.

The participation of Egypt and Jordan 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.

Israeli and U.S. officials say Israel has yet to be formally invited, given discussions between Washington and Bahrain over what might be an appropriate makeup of an Israeli delegation.

“The Palestinian Authority urges Egypt and Jordan not to attend the Bahrain conference,” Ibrahim Melhem, a spokesman for the Palestinian government said on social media after U.S. officials announced the two nations, along with Morocco, would attend.

Melhem urged “all brotherly and friendly countries to withdraw,” adding that participation “would carry wrong messages about the unity of the Arab position” on rejecting Trump’s plan.

While the precise outlines of the draft plan have yet to be revealed, Palestinian and Arab sources who have been briefed about it say it has jettisoned the two-state solution. The plan faces possible delays due to political upheaval in Israel, where Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu must fight another election after failing to form a government.

U.S. officials have said they are inviting economic and finance ministers, as well as business leaders from the region and around the world to Bahrain to discuss investment in the Palestinian territories.