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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Photo: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Palestinian leadership gave a cool response to the White House's announcement that it will launch the economic part of its Middle East peace plan next month at a conference in Bahrain, with one top official indicating they will not show up.

Why it matters: The White House put forward the economic part of the plan first so the Palestinians, who have been boycotting relations with the U.S. since President Trump's decision to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel in Jerusalem, would not reject it out of hand.

  • The Palestinians fear that the Trump administration is trying to give them huge economic benefits in return for giving up on their political aspirations — mainly an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

Driving the news: Palestinian Social Development Minister Ahmed Majdalani said after Monday's Cabinet meeting that Palestinian officials will not attend the conference in Bahrain.

  • Prominent Palestinian businessman Bashar Al-Masri wrote on his Facebook page that he was invited to the conference but decided that he and his employees will not participate because the event is outside the Palestinian consensus.

What else they're saying:

  • Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh struck a pessimistic tone, saying, "An economic initiative without a political horizon will lead nowhere."
  • Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said at the top of the Cabinet meeting that the Palestinians were not consulted at all regarding the timing and the substance of the Bahrain conference. He added, "We are not looking to improve our conditions of life under Israeli occupation but for a political solution that will end the occupation and will lead to a Palestinian state."
  • PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said, "Attempts at promoting an economic normalization of the Israeli occupation of Palestine will be rejected."

Worth noting: Israel still hasn't reacted at all to the White House announcement.

Go deeper: Kushner says Middle East peace plan focuses on "drawing the borders"

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.