Lebanon and Iraq say they’ll join the Palestinian Authority in boycotting the upcoming U.S.-led economic conference to be hosted by Bahrain later this month. Economic and finance ministers of Arab nations from around the region – and from around the world – have been invited to attend the conference to discuss investment in the Palestinian Authority, according to U.S. officials quoted by Asharq Al-Awsat.
Lebanon Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said Tuesday that his government would not participate because “the Palestinians will not participate, and we prefer to have a clear idea of the proposed peace plan, as we have not been consulted or informed about it.”
On Wednesday, Iraq Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ahmad Sahhaf told The Associated Press said his government would not attend because the rights of the Palestinian people “must be protected.” He did not clarify, however, exactly how Baghdad could protect the rights of Palestinian Authority Arabs by boycotting a conference intended to share the details of the economic centerpiece of a proposed plan for regional peace.
The United States is expected to unveil the first phase of its peace plan at the “Prosperity to Peace” conference scheduled to take place June 25-26, which focuses on the economic strategies of the complex proposal. The White House has said it will focus on the economic benefits that can be attained if the conflict is resolved between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan have all confirmed their intention to attend.
The Palestinian Authority has steadfastly refused, however, and has repeatedly urged all other Arab nations in the region to do the same. On Wednesday, furious at the announcement that Egypt and Jordan had decided to participate, PA spokesperson Ibrahim Melhem wrote in a statement on Facebook, “The Palestinian Authority urges Egypt and Jordan not to attend the Bahrain conference,” adding he urged “all brotherly and friendly countries to withdraw” because their participation “would carry wrong messages about the unity of the Arab position” about the Trump administration’s proposed “deal of the century.”