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Israel, Arab states laud alliance, decry terror – The Australian Jewish News

At their historic summit in the Israeli Negev town of Sde Boker on Monday, the top diplomats of Israel, the US and four Arab nations announced that the conference would be the first iteration of a permanent regional forum, as they reaffirmed the importance of growing ties between Israel and the broader Middle East.

The foreign ministers of Israel, Egypt, Bahrain, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates and the US Secretary of State all condemned terrorism, a day after the Hadera terrorist attack.

The unprecedented gathering was widely seen as an attempt by Israel and its Arab allies to create a front against shared regional foe Iran.

At a joint press conference of all six diplomats following the meetings, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the so-called Negev Summit would become “a permanent forum”.

He said the confab was building “a new regional architecture based on progress, technology, religious tolerance, security and intelligence cooperation”.

“This new architecture, the shared capabilities we are building, intimidates and deters our common enemies – first and foremost Iran and its proxies,” he said.

Lapid said that while the terrorists wish to sow disunity and prevent peace, “they will not succeed”. He pledged that he will continue on the “path of peace”.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded the summit, saying that “once-impossible things have become possible”. He praised the growing economic ties, solar energy deals and diplomatic forums taking place across the region in recent months.

Blinken pledged that the US will continue to support and help grow the Abraham Accords, hailing “a new dawn,” and assured those present that the US would help its allies confront common enemies in the region, including Iran.

However, he was careful to stress that the accords are not a substitute for progress on the Palestinian front, and he promised to work to see Palestinians and Israelis enjoying “equal measures” of prosperity, dignity and security.

once-impossible things have become possible.

Emirati chief diplomat Abdullah bin Zayed al Nahyan hailed the American role in helping the summit come to pass. He also called the conference a blow against the terror attack in Hadera and praised warming ties between Israel and the broader Middle East.

“It’s new for Abdullatif and Nasser and I to be in Israel,” al Nahyan said, referring to his fellow Arab foreign ministers.

Al Nahyan implied the need to correct history in long decades without relations. “Egypt showed us leadership 43 years ago” in legitimising Israel – an Israel, he stressed, that “has been part of this region for a very long time”.

“We lost those 43 years,” he said, looking at Shoukry. “Now we are just trying to follow your footsteps.”

Almost every visiting foreign minister, including Blinken, opened their remarks by condemning the terror attack in Hadera.

“I think our presence here [in Sde Boker] is the best response to such attacks,” said Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita.

Bourita emphasised Rabat’s support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, adding that any possible solution must also respect Israeli security interests.

Morocco’s decision to recognise Israel “is not an opportunistic move,” he stressed, emphasising the depth of the ties between the two nations. He noted the large community of Israelis who had immigrated from Morocco, and had just found out that the mayors of Negev towns Yeruham and Dimona were of Moroccan origin.

Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani also opened his remarks by condemning the Hadera attack. He said recent events, such as the Houthi militia attacks in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, as well as the need to “resolve the Iranian nuclear file,” made the need to join forces more urgent.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry offered a general condemnation of terrorism without specifically citing the attack in Hadera and in his comments spoke mainly about the Palestinian issue.

At times he appeared to scold the Israeli side, warning against “unilateral activity” to disturb “calm” during the coming Ramadan month.

Nonetheless, Shoukry also called the meetings “constructive and in-depth”.

The discussions on Monday morning at the Negev Summit dealt directly with the security challenges facing the countries gathered at Sde Boker, said senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official Oded Yosef.

Those challenges include those posed by Iran and its armed proxies, he said.

“It was a very open, honest conversation about real problems, and how we deal with them together,” he continued.

Most of the visiting dignitaries – those from the US, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt – mentioned their support for a future Palestinian state.


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