U.S. President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner led off the Bahrain “Peace to Prosperity” conference on Tuesday, redefining the administration’s plan not as the “deal of the century,” but the “opportunity of the century” for Palestinians and the Mideast.
Addressing Palestinians, whose leadership has boycotted the event, Kushner declared: “My direct message to the Palestinian people is that, despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you. This workshop is for you,” he said.
“Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary precondition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues,” Kushner says.
Fending off charges that the U.S. is intent on bribing the Palestinians to relinquish their aspirations for statehood, Kushner said:
“To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict — one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people.”
Among the participants who have arrived so far at the Four Seasons hotel in Manama, the Bahraini capital are: Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, deputy king and crown prince of Bahrain, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, and Rabbis Marvin Hier and Abraham Cooper, from the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
Steven T. Mnuchin, Secretary of the Treasury, is the official head of the U.S. delegation. Along with him are Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and senior members of their staffs.
From Israel, Gen. Yoav Mordechai, former IDF liaison to the Palestinian territories, Prof. Yitzchak Kreiss, director general of the Sheba Medical Center, and Netta Korin, owner of Bakery 29, a chain of bakery and coffee shops in Israel, will also be attending.
Former foreign minister Tzipi Livni, who quit politics earlier this year, tweeted from Bahrain on Tuesday:
“I heard it’s nice in Bahrain so I also came. The truth is I was invited to speak at a different conference about the Middle East before it became crowded here.”
Delegates from the European Union, Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabi are also expected.