Bahrain has allowed journalists from six different Israeli media outlets to enter the country next week in order to cover the "Peace to Prosperity" conference in Manama which will launch the economic part of the Trump administration's peace plan, Barak Ravid of Channel 13 News reported on Wednesday.
According to Ravid, Bahrain approved the entry of the Israelis at the request of US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner, whose team has been working for the last two years on gradually normalizing relations between Israel and the Gulf states.
This is an unprecedented move by Bahrain that for the first time will allow Israeli journalists to report from the Kingdom which does not have diplomatic ties with Israel.
Jason Greenblatt, the US Representative for International Negotiations, responded to Ravid’s report and tweeted, “There are those working to improve the lives of Israelis, Palestinians & others in the region, and to see if peace can be achieved. Bahrain is one such country. The USA very much appreciates Bahrain’s efforts.”
On Tuesday, Greenblatt explained to Channel 12 News why Israeli politicians were not invited to the economic workshop in Bahrain.
“The Israeli government won’t be represented. Israeli businesspeople will be there. Our goal is to unveil an economic plan that the Palestinians can benefit from tremendously. Jordanians and Egyptians as well,” he said.
“The Palestinian Authority has chosen to boycott what will be an exciting workshop, I think much to the detriment of the Palestinian people. There will be a time when we can have the Israeli government weigh in on our vision, on this economic vision, but at the moment we’re trying to not keep it political,” continued Greenblatt.
“We want to keep it business oriented,” said Greenblatt. “There will be finance ministers from other countries as well, because we think they will be either potential donors to the plan or can give us some input, but to depoliticize the issue, we’ve decided not to have the Israeli government itself there and just have the Israeli private sector there.”
Greenblatt was asked if he was disappointed by the Palestinian Authority’s refusal to participate in the economic conference. “I’m not surprised, unfortunately, by the Palestinian side. I think that they make decisions that sometimes aren’t helpful not only for peace but for their people. So disappointed? No. If I’m not surprised, I guess I can’t be disappointed. On the Israeli side there’s no reason to be disappointed. The Israeli government has been very helpful to us over the last two and a quarter years.”
"If we are lucky enough to both achieve a political deal and this economic vision, I feel confident that the Israeli government will be very helpful in the ideas that are generated and likely improve them as well, and we have time to get these improvements down the road," he added.
Greenblatt also addressed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's promise to apply Israeli sovereignty on parts of Judea and Samaria, saying, "I don’t think anyone should make unilateral steps until we at least reveal the plan. I don’t think that’s helpful to anybody. It’s a very complex, tough conflict. It’s been going on a long, long time. I think anybody who understands the nature of this conflict understands the chances of success and the timing.”
“What we hope to, of course, is succeed, but if we don’t succeed, we also hope to make sure that people understand the conflict better, people can have dreams and hopes and aspirations about what could be rather than what is. I don’t want to put a number on success, but I do think that we have to try to work toward something, but if we fail, I understand why as well,” concluded the US envoy.