Israeli businesspeople — but no government officials — will attend Bahrain economic peace summit


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israelis will attend the economic peace summit in Bahrain, Israel’s foreign minister confirmed, but reports said they would not include government officials.

Recently appointed Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, who also serves as Transportation Minister, told reporters Sunday in New York at the Jerusalem Post conference that Israelis will participate in next week’s “economic workshop,” the first effort for the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, despite no other official confirmation.

Reuters, quoting a source, reported that Israel would be represented by business people and not by government officials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing elections in September, does not want to hand parties to his Likud Party’s right fodder for claims he is ready to make concessions in a peace deal. Previous reports have said that Israel’s Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon was planning to attend.

Egypt, Morocco and Jordan have agreed to attend the meeting scheduled for June 25-26 in Manama to encourage capital investment in the West Bank, Gaza and countries in the region. The Palestinians have said they will not attend and have urged Arab countries and their supporters to stay away, saying that anyone who attends is a “collaborator” with Israel and the United States.

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in law and senior White House adviser, and White House Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt have worked on the peace proposal since the beginning of the Trump presidency. The plan contains both political and economic components and reportedly will be announced later this year.

“Israel has a key role to play in this process,” Katz said Sunday. “Israel, with its experience, and capabilities, can participate in these efforts and contribute in different fields of interest, among them modern technology, energy, innovation and even transportation.”

Katz reportedly met on Friday with Greenblatt at the latter’s home in New Jersey.

An unnamed senior American source told Israel’s Channel 13 that an invitation to Israel to attend the conference will be sent on Monday.

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