The first phase of President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan will kick off in Bahrain on Tuesday at a conference the White House calls an attempt to raise $ 50 billion in investments, but Palestinians make fun of it and say it is the "economy first" plan and doomed to fail.
The two-day international meeting, led by Jared Kouchner, is described as the first part of Washington's long-awaited political plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which will be unveiled later.
But neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian government will attend the Manama meeting.
The meeting will see whether participants such as Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Gulf Arab states will show any interest in making real donations to the US plan, which has already drawn strong criticism from Palestinians and others in the Arab world.
Bahrain has been preparing for the meeting for weeks. Bahrain is a close ally of the United States and hosts the US Navy's Fifth Fleet.
A senior Gulf diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the event, despite its supposed focus on the economy, Gulf Arab states hoped to use to show solidarity with the Trump administration over its tough approach to Iran.
Under the plan, donors and investors will contribute $ 50 billion to the region, including $ 28 billion for the Palestinian territories, the West Bank occupied by Israel and the Gaza Strip, $ 7.5 billion for Jordan, $ 9 billion for Egypt and $ 6 billion for Lebanon.
Of the 179 proposed projects, there is a $ 5 billion road to link the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
"I laugh when they attack this as a 'century deal,'" Kouchner told Reuters, referring to the supposed name of the Trump peace plan over the past two years.
"If they have the courage to implement it, it will be 'the chance of the century'."
Kouchner presents his plan in two handbooks full of drawings and statistics similar to the investment prospectus and has been repeatedly called the "Action Plan". Kouchner is a senior adviser to Trump and his son-in-law, who comes from New York's real estate world.
In response to critics accusing Kouchner of trying to craft "economic peace," he told Reuters last week: "Many past attempts have failed. Let us rest ... and keep an open mind. "
Peace for Prosperity
However, there are few opportunities for success. Trump acknowledges that the economic plan, called Peace for Prosperity, will only be implemented if a political solution is found to one of the most difficult conflicts in the world.
Such a solution must address long-standing issues such as the status of Jerusalem and the agreed borders, the security concerns of Israel, the Palestinian demands for their statehood, the fate of Israeli settlements and the military presence in the territories that the Palestinians want for that state.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera on Tuesday, Kouchner gave a rare glimpse into the possible political aspects of the plan, saying the deal would not comply with the Arab peace initiative, a Saudi-led initiative that has won Arab consensus since 2002.
"I think we all have to admit that if an agreement can be reached, it will not be like the Arab peace initiative," Kouchner told the island. Will be in a middle area between the Arab peace initiative and the Israeli position. "
The Arab initiative calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and the right of return for refugees, which Israel rejects.
There are continuing questions about the plan and whether the Trump team is planning to abandon the "two-state solution," which includes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.
The United Nations and most of the world support the two-state solution that has been the cornerstone of every peace plan for decades.
But Trump's team, led by Kouchner and Trump Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, has consistently refused to abide by the two-state solution, keeping the political phase of the plan too secret.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of Trump, is suffering from internal problems and faces elections and possible corruption charges after a long police investigation. And denies the commission of any irregularities.
"We will hear the American proposal with fairness and openness," Netanyahu said on Sunday. Despite the absence of ministers from the Israeli Government, an Israeli business delegation is expected to participate.
Palestinian leaders boycotted the workshop and refused to communicate with the White House accusing him of bias in favor of Israel following a series of recent Trump decisions. Kushner told Reuters that "some" Palestinian businessmen would attend but declined to give their names.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Palestinian authority exercises limited autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, has been sharply critical of the chances of a successful meeting.
"The money is important and the economy is important, but the political solution is more important, and when a political solution is based on international legitimacy and the vision of the two countries, then we say hello to everyone who wants to help us," Abbas said.
The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which runs the Gaza Strip, found itself in a rare agreement with its arch-rival Abbas.
"The question of Palestine does not represent it and is only represented by its people," said Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas official.
He added that Trump's approach "establishes the transformation of the cause of our people from political to humanitarian ... and the integration of occupation into the fabric of the region."
However, Kouchner insists that the economic plan aims to help the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table by showing the benefits that the peace agreement could bring.
Kouchner said that even without the representation of the Israeli and Palestinian governments, the presence of Israeli businessmen and journalists with their counterparts from the Arab world will be important at a time of heightened tension with Iran.
"People are aware that the real threat to that region is Iran and its aggression, and Israel and many other Arab countries have much more in common today than ever before," he said.
"Iran is at the forefront of the attention chain now," said David Makovsky, a Middle East expert in Washington, although the main focus of the event is on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
But Makovsky, whom the White House invited to participate as an observer, said Trump and Kouchner's plan would eventually succeed or fail in how to address key issues, not money.
"Nobody thinks he can solve this economically without addressing political issues."