Negev Forum working groups in Abu Dhabi for first meetings with new Israeli government

UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco met representatives from US and Israel

The Negev Forum meeting in Zallaq, south of Bahraini capital Manama, in June 2022. AFP
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Senior officials from the US, Israel, the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain and Morocco met in Abu Dhabi on Monday more than two years after the signing of the Abraham Accords.

The 2020 signing opened the way for the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan to establish ties with Israel — joining Egypt and Jordan as Arab states which have formalised ties.

The six countries will meet following an increase in tensions in Jerusalem after a controversial visit by Israel's new national security minister Itamar Ben-Gvir to Al Aqsa mosque compound.

His visit sparked international condemnation, including from the US, a long-standing ally of Israel.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid discussed deepening relations between Israel and the UAE with Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, on Sunday.

UAE officials visit the World Holocaust Remembrance Centre in Jerusalem in September. EPA

“We talked about the continuation of the activities of the Negev Forum that convenes in Abu Dhabi, and about the ways to deepen our close relationship for the benefit of both countries, peoples and regional stability,” Mr Lapid tweeted.

The US delegation will include foreign policy adviser Derek Chollet, senior official for public diplomacy and public affairs Liz Allen and arms control expert Mallory Stewart.

USAID Middle East expert Andrew Plitt, the Rome ambassador to the UN's food and agriculture agencies Cindy McCain and Yael Lempert of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs are also part of the US delegation.

In March last year, the six nations agreed to form six working groups — on regional security, energy, food and water security, health, education and tolerance, and tourism — aimed at forging closer ties.

Senior officials from the six participating countries last met in June in Bahrain to discuss the next steps after the inaugural Negev Summit was held in March last year.

Updated: January 09, 2023, 3:48 PM