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The Arab-Israeli alliance meets in Israel to take a stand on the war in Ukraine and the nuclear deal with Tehran

The Negev Summit held on 27-28 March in Israel creates an unprecedented common front against Iran
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Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs  -   Ministers from Morocco, Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States at the Negev Summit - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

The Foreign Ministers of the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Bahrain, Morocco and the United States met on the last Sunday in March at a luxury Israeli resort in the Negev Desert to address their common threats in the Gulf region, as well as the conflict in Ukraine, which was added to the agenda at the last minute at the request of Anthony Blinken, the Biden administration's Secretary of State. 

The summit, which lasted all day Sunday and into Monday morning, brought together all the countries' positions on reviving the nuclear deal with Tehran, the main opponent in the region of the Arab-Israeli partners. 

"We are making history with this summit. This meeting between allies is an imposing deterrent to our enemies and their 'proxies'," Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told a press conference. 

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Negev Summit in Israel between the various ministers of the Arab-Israeli alliance - Israeli Government

Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates expressed concern about the recent activity of the Quds Forces, the intelligence and special operations branch of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard (IRGC), and its involvement in the war in Yemen. These concerns were addressed by Israel, as Israeli President Naftali Bennet made known at a press conference afterwards when he said he was "concerned about the intention to remove the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps from the list of terrorist organisations. Their satellite, the Houthis, just this weekend carried out a horrific attack on Saudi Arabia', referring to the latest Houthi attack on an Aramco refinery very close to the Jeddah racetrack.

The IRGC is on the US list of terrorist organisations. One of the conditions imposed by Iran in the nuclear deal negotiations is to remove its name from the list and end sanctions against the organisation, something that has worried Arab countries in the Gulf region. 

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Press conference by Secretary of State Blinken and Foreign Minister Lapid - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

During Blinken's press conference with his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, Biden's secretary of state avoided making any reference to the issue, despite being asked directly by Walla News reporter Barak Ravid. However, according to Al-Arab, the US special envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, has assured that the IRGC "will continue to be subject to sanctions under US law". 

The Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, also expressed concern about Iran's demands, recalling that the Iranian government and its Hezbollah allies give clear support to the Polisario Front. Morocco accuses Iran of supplying arms and funding to the separatist military group, which threatens the territorial integrity and security of the Kingdom of Morocco. 

The conflict in Ukraine was also on the agenda, at Blinken's request. In this connection, Yair Lapid recalled that Israel "condemns the Russian invasion of Ukraine from day one", and that "We will continue to offer military and medical assistance to Ukraine", thus aligning itself with NATO and Blinken. Yair Lapid also announced that they will continue to strive to maintain as many sanctions as possible against Russia.
 

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Arrival of Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita at the Negev Summit - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

In his speech, Blinken thanked Israel for its gestures on Ukraine. Clearly, one of the intentions of Joe Biden's administration with this summit would be to strengthen Israel's position against Russia, which has so far not come together. Military cooperation between Israel and Russia, Russia's involvement in the Syrian war and their trade exchanges were reasons why Israel, despite condemning the invasion, had not joined the sanctions as massive and important as those of the European Union or the United States, but Blinken's visit may correct this situation in the coming weeks, although it is to be hoped that the Israeli response will still be mitigated. 

All Foreign Ministers agreed at the final press conference on the 28th that this Negev summit is an unprecedented show of strength and progress. "A strengthening of the relationship that began with the Abraham Accords, which is materialising in various forms," Blinken said. 

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Flags of the participating nations at the Negev Summit - Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs

"Our presence here is the best response to the attacks we suffer from our enemys," added Nasser Bourita in his turn to speak. The Moroccan Foreign Minister also welcomed the role of its allies, especially the United States, in "promoting peace".

Unfortunately, the context of the Negev Summit was slightly disrupted on Sunday night by an armed attack by two Islamic terrorists on two Israeli police officers. The attack resulted in the death of the two policemen, and subsequently of the attackers. The Foreign Ministers dedicated heartfelt words to the law enforcement officers in their speeches to the press.