The White House will unveil the first part of President Donald Trump’s long-awaited Israeli-Palestinian peace plan when it holds an international conference in Bahrain in late June to encourage investment in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, senior U.S. officials said on Sunday.
According to Reuters, the “economic workshop” will bring together government officials and business leaders in an effort to jump-start the economic portion of the peace initiative, which is also expected to include proposals for resolving thorny political issues at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the officials said.
Trump has touted the coming plan as the “deal of the century,” but Palestinian officials have rebuked the U.S. effort, which they believe will be heavily biased in favor of Israel.
Trump’s Middle East team, led by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and regional envoy Jason Greenblatt, appears intent on focusing initially on potential economic benefits, despite deep skepticism among experts that they can succeed where decades of U.S.-backed efforts have failed.
“We think this is an opportunity to take the economic plan that we’ve worked on for a long time now and present it in the region,” a senior Trump administration official said.
The participants in the June 25-26 conference in Manama, the first phase of the peace plan’s rollout, are expected to include representatives and business executives from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, including some finance ministers, the administration official said.
A second U.S. official declined to say whether Israeli and Palestinian officials were likely to take part.
“Our position is clear: we will neither participate in the economic segment nor in the political segment of this deal,” said PLO senior official Wasel Abu Youssef.
The Palestinian Authority has boycotted the U.S. peace effort since late 2017 when Trump decided to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, reversing decades of U.S. policy.
But the senior U.S. official said several Palestinian business leaders “have shown a lot of interest” in the conference.