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Negev Summit establishes itself as a permanent forum

The Negev Forum will focus on six areas of work at its Bahrain meeting: food and water security, energy, health, education and tolerance, tourism and regional security
Panel discussion at the opening of the Negev Summit

JACQUELYN MARTIN/POOL/AP PHOTO  -   Panel discussion at the opening of the Negev Summit

Bahrain is hosting a meeting of representatives of the Foreign Ministries of the countries that participated in the Negev Summit, a historic meeting that in March brought together for the first time on Israeli soil the Foreign Ministers of Bahrain, Abdullatif bin Rashid al-Zayani, Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, Morocco, Nasser Bourita, the United Arab Emirates, Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan, and Israel, Yair Lapid to discuss such important issues as protection from terrorism and regional security in the wake of the famous Abraham Accords by which several Arab countries established diplomatic relations with the Israeli state under US auspices, which in 2020 marked a major step towards pacifying the Middle East region. 

Yair Lapid was in charge of organising this first meeting three months ago, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which he represents, officially stated that the states participating in the Negev Summit decided in March that it would become a permanent forum called the Negev Forum. The Israeli ministry reported on the social networking site Twitter that this entity will be "an ongoing process based on six working groups". These areas are food and water security, energy, health, education and tolerance, tourism and regional security.

The aim of Monday's meeting on Bahraini soil is now to "determine the process of the working groups" and "serve as a milestone before the expected visit of the US president to the Middle East", as the Israeli Foreign Ministry noted. Media outlets such as the France Presse news agency had previously confirmed that Israeli officials had indicated that diplomats from the United States, Israel and the four Arab countries mentioned, including Morocco, would meet in Bahrain on Monday, ahead of US President Joe Biden's visit to the Middle East region. 

ISRAEL MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS – Los ministros de Marruecos, Israel, Bahréin, Emiratos Árabes Unidos y Estados Unidos en la Cumbre del Néguev
ISRAEL MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS - Ministers from Morocco, Israel, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and the United States at the Negev Summit

The first meeting of the Negev Forum steering committee seeks to formalise commitments made at the unprecedented meeting between Israel and regional partners in March. Regional security initiatives will also be discussed.

Israel, Bahrain, the United States, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Morocco will participate in this meeting at the level of directors general of the respective Foreign Ministries as a permanent meeting point to establish "a new regional architecture", according to Israeli diplomatic sources, as reported by the Israeli media Aurora. 

These are the countries that in 2020 sealed the famous Abraham Accords, under which prominent Arab countries such as the UAE and Bahrain established relations with Israel under US mediation, in addition to Egypt, which already established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1978. 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was also present at the summit on Israeli soil in March, showing continued support for the new diplomatic harmony that has opened up between Israel and much of the Arab world. 

PHOTO/ARCHIVO - Fotografía de archivo. Encuentro entre el ministro de Asuntos Exteriores, Cooperación Africana y Marroquíes Residentes en el Extranjero de Marruecos, Nasser Bourita, y su homólogo israelí, Yair Lapid, como ejemplo de la cooperación y el acercamiento entre ambas potencias
PHOTO/FILE - File photo. Meeting between Morocco's Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccans Residing Abroad, Nasser Bourita, and his Israeli counterpart, Yair Lapid, as an example of cooperation and rapprochement between the two powers.

Nasser Bourita is also present in Bahrain to attend this high-level meeting, as reported by the media outlet Rue20, after the Negev Summit itself in March sent messages of support for the Alawi kingdom's proposal for broad autonomy for Western Sahara under Moroccan sovereignty as a credible and realistic initiative to resolve the 40-year-old Sahrawi conflict. 

A Moroccan project that received a major boost after Donald Trump's US administration recognised the Moroccan sovereignty of the Sahara and opened the door for many other countries to support the North African country's proposal as the most serious and realistic way to find a solution to the Western Sahara issue.