The Latest: Bahrain FM gives interview to Israeli TV channel
MANAMA, Bahrain (AP) — The Latest on developments surrounding a U.S.-hosted conference in Bahrain about Washington’s economic plan for the Palestinians (all times local):
Bahrain’s foreign minister has given an unprecedented interview to an Israeli television channel, calling for open communication with the Jewish state.
Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa spoke to Israel’s Channel 13 on the sidelines of the Trump administration’s Mideast peace conference in Manama.
Al Khalifa says that “Israel is part of this heritage of this whole region, historically. So, the Jewish people have a place amongst us.”
The Bahraini foreign minister voices support for Israeli strikes against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria, saying “every country has a right to defend itself.” He called Iran a “major threat to the stability and the security of the region,” and said Iran’s support for militant groups have hindered Arab-Israeli peace efforts.
Thousands of Palestinians are rallying outside a U.N. compound in the Gaza Strip to protest the White House-led Mideast peace conference in Bahrain.
The demonstrators gathered Wednesday, raising a black coffin that read “Bahrain conference to hell,” and signs that said “We are not trading our rights for money.”
Palestinians burned effigies of President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The protesters called out Trump’s son-in-law, chanting “Kushner, Palestine is not for sale.”
The U.S. president’s senior adviser Jared Kushner is spearheading the $50 billion U.S. economic plan for the Palestinians. The proposal, which omits key political aspects, has been met with scorn by Palestinians and their leaders.
The protest, orchestrated by multiple Palestinian factions, including Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, passed peacefully.
A smaller demonstration took place in Khan Younis, southern Gaza.
Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri says his government is opposed to the Trump administration’s Mideast plan.
State-run National News Agency quoted Hariri on Wednesday saying his comments came during a parliament session.
Hariri added he was against the naturalization of Palestinian refugees in the country.
Lebanese officials have blasted the Trump administration’s $50 billion investment proposal that comes as part of a Middle East peace plan.
The 10-year plan calls for projects worth $6.3 billion for Palestinians in Lebanon, as well as $27.5 billion in the West Bank and Gaza, $9.1 billion in Egypt and $7.4 billion in Jordan.
The large sums for Jordan and Lebanon, countries with substantial Palestinian refugee populations, were an apparent attempt to have them absorbed into these nations.
The Palestinian Liberation Organization has reiterated its rejection of the $50 billion U.S. economic plan for the Palestinians, saying that the proposal’s lack of political vision guarantees its failure.
The PLO Executive Committee released its statement Wednesday, as the White House-led Mideast peace conference was underway in Bahrain.
The statement says the Trump administration wants to sell a “mirage of economic prosperity” which will only perpetuate the Palestinians’ “captivity.”
It accused the White House of using the workshop as cover for Israel’s efforts to achieve normal relations with Arab states and grow its settlements in the occupied West Bank.
The statement said that peace could not be achieved without ending “Israeli occupation and economic domination.”
The sultanate of Oman has announced it will open an embassy in the West Bank, in the city of Ramallah. The announcement comes as Bahrain hosts a summit on a U.S. Mideast peace plan by the Trump administration, focusing on the Palestinian economy.
A tweet from the Omani Foreign Ministry on Wednesday announced the embassy plans. The ministry says the decision comes “in continuation of the sultanate’s support for the Palestinian people.”
Oman, on the eastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, runs its own foreign policy, often at odds with its Gulf Arab neighbors, such as maintaining close ties to Iran.
Sultan Qaboos bin Said also hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last October — the first visit by an Israeli leader in over 20 years. In 1996, Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres visited Oman.
The heads of international financial institutions and global investors are addressing a conference intended to boost a $50 billion U.S. economic plan for the Palestinians.
Despite widespread doubts about the proposal, which has been rejected by the Palestinians, the chiefs of the IMF and World Bank will offer suggestions for making the plan a success.
Also speaking Wednesday to the “Peace to Prosperity” workshop in Bahrain are former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the head of the international football federation FIFA and the lone Palestinian on the agenda, a West Bank businessman who is viewed with deep suspicion by many fellow Palestinians.
The plan’s architect, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, will make a return appearance and the two-day conference will close with an address by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.