Benjamin Netanyahu

White House will not invite Israeli officials to Bahrain conference

Jared Kushner and Netanyahu
Jared Kushner with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Handout / Amos Ben Gershom / GPO/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

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.

The big picture: The decision follows a Palestinian boycott of the conference, which has put pressure on other Arab and Muslim nations not to attend. A senior U.S. official told me: "The goal of the workshop in Bahrain is to present our economic vision for the Palestinian people. As such we want to focus on the economic aspects and not the political ones." The Bahrain conference will now take place without Israeli or Palestinian officials.

Israel's Netanyahu inaugurates non-existent 'Trump Heights' town in the Golan

Trump Heights
Netanyahu gives a speech before the newly-unveiled sign for the new settlement of "Ramat Trump", or "Trump Heights." Photo: JALAA MAREY/AFP/Getty Images

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman hosted a special ceremony Sunday to dedicate a new town in the Golan Heights called "Ramat Trump," or "Trump Heights" in English. The only problem is that for now, this is only a "paper town," meaning it does not yet exist and is not even in planning stages.

Why it matters: This is a public relations stunt meant for a domestic audience on the eve of the upcoming elections. It's also significant for foreign policy reasons, intended for a target audience of one — President Trump. Trump's recognition of the Golan Heights in March gave a dramatic boost to Netanyahu's election campaign. Netanyahu will need Trump's help again soon with the new September 17 elections looming.