Israel trying to add 'Muslim-majority African state' to Negev summit: report

Israel trying to add 'Muslim-majority African state' to Negev summit: report
Israel and the US have reportedly pushed for an unnamed African country to get on board for next month's Arab-Israeli summit.
2 min read
23 May, 2023
Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen (R) discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken [Getty/archive]

Israel has attempted to get a "Muslim-majority African country" it has no official ties with to join an Arab-Israeli summit scheduled to take place in Morocco next month.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen had already discussed the issue with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and it came up again during talks between Israeli foreign ministry director-general Ronen Levy and officials in Washington last week, Haaretz reported on Monday.

The African country has not been named but reports earlier this year claimed that channels of communication were open between Israel and Mauritania, something which Nouakchott later denied.

Mauritania ended its ties with Israel in 2009 after an Israeli war on the Gaza Strip which claimed over 1,400 Palestinian lives.

Israel's attempts are part of efforts to expand the Negev Forum, an economic and security summit which includes Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, and Morocco - the last three normalising relations with Israel in 2020.

Morocco will host the summit on 25 June, initially held in the Negev region of Israel, but the exact location is yet to be revealed.

The summit was previously postponed after Israel’s current far-right government was formed in late 2022. This year has seen Israel launch a wave of deadly attacks on Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and the besieged Gaza Strip, killing over 150 Palestinians.

The purpose of the Negev Forum - which began as a summit in March last year - is to expand regional economic and security integration between Israel and Arab states which have normalised ties with it.

Palestinians and some Arab states have strongly condemned the normalisation moves, particularly with the continued occupation of the West Bank and Israel's stranglehold on Gaza.

Egypt established ties with Israel in 1979 and it was followed by Jordan in 1994. But the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, as well as Sudan, all formally established ties with Israel in 2020 in a controversial deal dubbed the Abraham Accords.

The US is also reportedly pushing for Israeli-Saudi normalisation before the year ends, but Riyadh has said it does not intend to take such a move before Palestinian statehood is achieved.