The Negev Forum Summit of foreign ministers from the United States, Israel and Arab nations was postponed indefinitely due to expedited West Bank settlement activity, a Foreign Ministry source confirmed on Wednesday.
Morocco, which had planned to host the meeting, canceled it after the government on Sunday amended a 1996 decision that had created diplomatic safeguards by which multiple approvals were needed from the Prime Minister and Defense Minister before any building project in Judea and Samaria received its final approvals.
Under the procedure approved Sunday only an initial approval is needed for the upper echelon such as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and or Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
This was followed by an announcement that the Higher Planning Council for Judea and Samaria would advance plans for 4,560 new homes in Judea and Samaria.
Both moves have been condemned by the international community including the Arab States.
The Negev Forum’s cancelation was leaked to the media before Israel was informed through diplomatic channels.
What is the Negev Forum?
The key forum of the US, Israel and the Arab states with which Israel has relations - Egypt, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, though not Jordan - was established by the previous Israeli government with a foreign ministers’ meeting in Sde Boker in March 2022 to translate the promise of the Abraham Accords into action.
Lower-level meetings took place in June 2022 in Bahrain, virtually in October 2022 and in January 2023 in Abu Dhabi.
But the procedure that the US has repeatedly promised was still very much alive has been flailing since the winter with diplomats skeptical that a high-level meeting is possible in light of the policies of Netanyahu’s government.
A foreign ministers’ meeting was planned for March in Morocco, to celebrate a year to the forum’s establishment, but had since been postponed four times, with Rabat not committing to dates throughout the months, before calling it off this week.