US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid. March 28, 2022

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken with his Israeli counterpart Yair Lapid on Monday.

Israel Foreign Minister Sees ‘Negev Summit’ As Lasting Forum

3/28/2022

The United States, Israel and four Sunni Arab countries concluded two days of talks on Monday, vowing to expand and make the ‘Negev Summit’ a “permanent forum.”

Wrapping-up the landmark gathering Monday at Sde Boker, Negev, those taking part said the forum would build commercial and security ties with other Sunni Arab states. Unlike Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE, Saudi Arabia has held back from ‘normalization’ with Israel, which Arab League policy conditions on Israel recognizing Palestinian statehood.

“We are today opening a door before all the peoples of the region, including the Palestinians, and offering them to replace the way of terror and destruction with a shared future of progress and success," Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said.

"This new architecture -- the shared capabilities we are building -- intimidates and deters our common enemies, first and foremost Iran and its proxies," Lapid added alongside his counterparts from the United States, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

The summit participants decided to make it into a “permanent forum”, Lapid said, adding that its doors were open to “all the peoples of the region, including the Palestinians".

Expressing US commitment to reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which Israel and some Gulf Arab states oppose, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would work with “friends…to confront common security challenges and threats, including those from Iran and its proxies.”

"As neighbors and, in the case of the United States, as friends, we will also work together to confront common security challenges and threats, including those from Iran and its proxies”, Blinken said.

The UAE, Bahrain and Morocco normalized ties with Israel under the 2020 US-mediated Abraham Accords. In 1979, Egypt became the first Arab state to make peace with Israel.

Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani described the discussions as helpful to fend off Iranian-backed groups like Hezbollah. "Of course, part of this process will be renewed efforts to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," he added.

As the four Arab states’ foreign ministers gathered in Israel to discuss the Iranian threat with the United States, Arab gunmen killed two Israeli policemen Sunday night.

Iran’s Fars news agency, which is affiliated to Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC),splashed a headline on its website saying Hezbollah congratulated the “martyrdom” operation.

Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita said on Monday that his attendance at the meeting in Sde Boker was the "best response to such attacks”.

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