Wednesday, June 19 2019

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US says Mideast conference in Bahrain to go ahead despite Israel election

Update: May, 31/2019 - 09:46

 

US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting in Jerusalem. AFP Photo

WASHINGTON A US-led conference on economic aspects of a Middle East peace plan will go ahead next month in Bahrain despite Israel's snap elections, the State Department said Thursday.

"We are not anticipating any changes. It's set for June 25 and 26," State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.

Another US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that a separate rollout of the political elements of the plan would take place "when the timing is right."

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law and adviser, had been preparing for months to unveil the peace plan but had said he was waiting for Israel's elections in April as well as the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Israel, however, on Thursday set new elections for September 17 after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a veteran conservative close to Trump, failed to form a coalition.

The Bahrain conference is expected to look at economic opportunities for the Palestinians, through funding from Washington's Gulf Arab allies that are united with Israel and the United States in opposing Iran.

Kushner has hinted that the United States in turn will not push for the creation of a Palestinian state, a key goal of decades of US-led diplomacy, and Netanyahu during his last campaign threatened to annex parts of the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority has already said it will boycott the Bahrain conference, not seeing Trump as an honest broker after his landmark recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. AFP

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