Israel approves 6-country annual conference

The Negev Forum will act on the basis of six working multilateral groups in various fields…reports Asian Lite News

Israel’s cabinet has approved the establishment of an annual gathering of senior officials from the US and five Middle Eastern countries, namely Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt.

The decision “institutionalises” the work of the Negev Forum, a six-party meeting held in Sde Boker in southern Israel’s Negev Desert in March 2022, said a statement issued by Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid’s office.

The Negev Forum will act on the basis of six working multilateral groups in the fields of food security and water, energy, tourism, health, education and tolerance, and regional security, the office was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency reported.

Among the four Arab countries in the forum, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco normalised ties with Israel in 2020, while Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace accord with Israel in 1979.

Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid met in Jerusalem with visiting Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan to mark the second anniversary of the normalisation of ties between the two countries.

Lapid met Sheikh Abdullah for a one-on-one meeting, which was followed by an expanded meeting with teams from both sides, according to a statement from Lapid’s office on Thursday.

“We are changing the Middle East together. We are moving it from war to peace, from terrorism to economic cooperation, from a mess of violence and fanaticism to a dialogue of tolerance and cultural curiosity,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog hosted Sheikh Abdullah for an official luncheon in the afternoon at the President’s residence in Jerusalem.

The UAE Foreign Minister told Herzog that the deal to normalise diplomatic ties between the two countries in 2020 was “historic”.

On Thursday, Sheikh Abdullah also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem.

“We must take a brave step to build a bridge of real peace for future generations,” the UAE Foreign Minister wrote in the guest book.

The trip is Sheikh Abdullah’s second visit to Israel since the UAE and Israel decided to normalise ties in September 2020.

The UAE and Bahrain signed US-brokered agreements to normalise their ties with Israel in September 2020. The move was followed later by Sudan and Morocco.

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