Israel plans second regional forum to take advantage of Biden's visit to the Middle East

The event would bring together participants of the Negev Summit, but the president's agenda and the latest tensions between Israel and Arab nations could make it difficult

AFP/JACQUELYN MARTIN  -   Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Moroccan Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita and UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan pose for a group photo after their meeting in the Negev at Israel's Kibbutz Sde Boker

US President Joe Biden plans to visit the Middle East region at the end of June this year. On the occasion of this event, Israel wants to use the occasion to hold a second regional forum with the participation of several Arab countries, with Biden himself as the special guest.

This has been confirmed by Axios, an Israeli media outlet. According to this media outlet, which has been able to speak to two Israeli officials, the Hebrew government and the White House are currently in the midst of negotiations to hold this event and organise Biden's visit. However, all indications are that it will be difficult to hold the meeting, although talks are still too early to confirm the news.

This second forum is planned to bring together the countries attending the Negev Summit. This event, organised by the Hebrew country, brought together delegations and Ministers of the Interior from nations such as Israel, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco.

 Blinken y los principales diplomáticos de Israel y de cuatro Estados árabes celebraron una reunión histórica para debatir cuestiones que van desde las negociaciones nucleares con Irán hasta la conmoción mundial por la invasión rusa de Ucrania AFP/JACQUELYN MARTIN
AFP/JACQUELYN MARTIN - Blinken and top diplomats from Israel and four Arab states held a historic meeting to discuss issues ranging from nuclear negotiations with Iran to the global uproar over Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The summit also took advantage of the presence of the US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, who was on a tour of the MENA region. During the celebration, the Abraham Accords were recalled, in which relations between all these nations were promised to be re-established. Other agreements were also made to foster mutual cooperation.

Despite this, it appears that the event will have to be postponed for a number of reasons. Firstly, although the Washington D.C. government has not yet reported the news, Biden's visit to Israel is intended to be quite short and quick. Biden's new tour of Israel is expected to last between 24 and 36 hours. This would make it impossible to hold the forum, as the president will have a busy schedule of visits, meetings and various events. 

El Secretario de Estado de los Estados Unidos, Antony Blinken, a la izquierda, escucha mientras el Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita, habla durante su intervención en la Cumbre del Néguev, el lunes 28 de marzo de 2022, en Sde Boker, Israel AFP/JACQUELYN MARTIN
AFP/JACQUELYN MARTIN - U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, left, listens as Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita speaks during his address to the Negev Summit, Monday, March 28, 2022, in Sde Boker, Israel

Secondly, there is the recent tension between some countries and Israel over the attack on the Al-Aqsa mosque during the celebration of Ramadan in confrontation with Passover. This attack has been described by several Arab media outlets as one of the most brutal in history and was intended to show Israeli control over a place sacred to Arabs. It is also worth noting that many Arab nations still continue to show their rejection of Israel for its continued attacks on the Palestinian people and more so in recent weeks.

The events have raised tensions between Israel and its new Arab allies that seemed to have been forgotten. Many of them have already shown their rejection of this attack, as is the case of Morocco, which has condemned the event. After learning of the events, Morocco summoned Israel's Chargé d'Affaires to express its complete rejection of the Israeli forces' assault on the mosque. For his part, the Moroccan Foreign Minister, Nasser Bourita, declared to the media that this aggression is the result of systematic discrimination against the Palestinian people in Israel. 

El ministro de Asuntos Exteriores de los Emiratos Árabes Unidos, el jeque Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, hace declaraciones en la Cumbre del Néguev AFP PHOTO / HO / WAM
AFP PHOTO / HO / WAM - UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan addresses the Negev Summit.

The news of this attack on the Esplanade of the Mosques in Jerusalem has also been taken very negatively by some political groups in the Hebrew country. After two hundred Palestinians were injured in the riots, the Islamist Raam party has withdrawn its support for the government.

This is causing a wave of instability in the country's political ranks, as Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's figurehead is now in the spotlight. The withdrawal of support has placed his fate for the upcoming elections in the hands of the Arab minority, as without their support he would not have been able to form his mandate.

Even so, the holding of this second forum could provide the basis for a solution to the conflict. Axios argues that, with the US taking a back seat in the Middle East region, it may be a way for Biden to show support and get Arab and Hebrew leaders to start formulating a peace process in Palestine and beyond.

Americas Coordinator: José Antonio Sierra.