The White House's Middle East Meetup Is Already a Mess

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Since shortly after joining the Trump administration, Jared Kushner has made it his personal mission to solve the Gordian Knot that is the Israeli-Palestine conflict. Let’s check in on how that’s going.

As Axios reported today:

The White House has decided not to invite the Israeli Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon or other Israeli government officials to the Bahrain conference in Manama on June 25, where it plans to launch the economic part of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, U.S. officials told me.


Hm. So, the Israelis are not coming. What about the Palestinians? (Emphasis mine):

Why it matters: This is a major setback for the White House’s vision for the much-anticipated Bahrain conference, which will now take place without Israeli or Palestinian officials.

  • When the conference was announced, White House officials said Israel would be invited at a high level. Even after the Palestinians decided to boycott the conference, the Trump administration still planned to use the event to promote Israeli relations with the Gulf states.
  • The Palestinians view the fact that Israeli officials will not be in Manama as an achievement for their boycott campaign.

Oh dear. Yep, looks like the boycott worked! The conference in Bahrain, organized by Kushner, was meant to bring together Arab countries with Palestinian and Israeli officials to discuss investments in Palestine that could help build toward peace, focusing on the “economic aspects” and not the political ones, per Axios. Sure.

So far, per The National, an English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, only one Palestinian businessman has said he would attend:

All major Palestinian businessmen have so far rejected their invitations, condemning the event as a farce for not addressing the impact of the Israeli occupation on the Palestinian economy. One small businessman has publicly accepted the invite: Ashraf al-Jabari from Hebron, who works closely with Israeli settlers and faces a dozen accusations of issuing fraudulent cheques and one of treason, according to BuzzFeed News.

The BuzzFeed News story mentioned refers to al-Jabari as the Trump administration’s “Man in Palestine.” Really great prospects here, which I’m sure will go a long way toward a fair, humane solution, as long as everyone glosses over the fact that the current U.S. ambassador is busy claiming Israel has the right to annex part of the West Bank.