Two countries with no Israel ties were set to participate in Negev Forum: Israel FM

Two countries with no Israel ties were set to participate in Negev Forum: Israel FM
2 min read
27 June, 2023
Without naming them, Israel's top diplomat said two additional states were going to take part in the Israeli-Arab summit.
The forum includes envoys of Israel, the US, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco [Getty/archive]

Two countries which do not share ties with Israel were pencilled in for an Israeli-Arab summit planned for next month before it was delayed again, Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said Monday.

During a meeting of the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, Cohen said he believed the two countries, which he did not name, will attend the Negev Forum when it does eventually convene.

No official date has yet been set.

Established in March 2022 in Israel’s Negev Desert, the forum was meant to be an annual platform for Israeli-Arab normalisation and strengthening cooperation in various fields, including security and defence.

The summit, which involves the foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and the US, had previously been postponed three times before it was scheduled for 25 June.

UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan all normalised ties with Israel recently, but the move has been hugely unpopular with their populations.

Morocco which was the host country this year, announced earlier in June that it would again postpone it.

Reports have said that Israel and the US were trying to bring on board more Muslim-majority African countries, without naming them.

Cohen during Monday’s committee meeting spoke of Israel’s efforts to expand the Abraham Accords – the name given to the controversial US-mediated normalisation deals.

While conflict-wrecked Sudan also signed the agreement, no steps have been taken to solidify it.

"I’m happy to say that we’re in touch with a number of countries, which, as of today, we don’t have ties with, in order to expand the Abraham Accords," said Cohen, as quoted by Israeli media.

Despite Jordan sharing ties with Israel since signing a 1994 peace treaty, it is not part of the Negev Forum.

Israel and the US are both eager to have Saudi Arabia forge ties with Israel, something the kingdom has repeatedly said it was unwilling to do as long as an independent Palestinian state is not recognised.

Other conditions include Saudi demands for US approval of a civilian nuclear programme, a US report claimed earlier this month.