Israeli FM to attend conference with Arab counterparts in March

by IANS |

Tel Aviv, Jan 3 (IANS) Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen announced his plan to attend a conference in March with his counterparts from Arab countries that have normalised relations with the Jewish state.

Cohen, who took office last week in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's far-right coalition government, said the conference will be hosted by Morocco, Xinhua news agency reported citing a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry here.

The Ministry's director-general is scheduled to attend a working meeting next week with Arab counterparts in Abu Dhabi to prepare the meeting, he added.

Cohen was referring to the Negev Forum, a foreign ministerial-level framework established by Israel, Bahrain, Egypt, Morocco, the UAE and the US in 2022 to develop Israeli-Arab relations, especially after the normalization Abraham Accords Israel reached with Bahrain, Morocco and the UAE in 2020.

"Expanding the Accords to other countries is not a matter of 'if' but of 'when'," Cohen said.

The Minister added that Israel's ties with the Arab countries resulted in $2.85 billion in trade in 2022 and "a significant contribution to security ... and regional stability".

Netanyahu, who was sworn in for a sixth term last week, has expressed hope of forming official ties with Saudi Arabia.

In the past, Riyadh has conditioned any diplomatic progress with Israel on progress toward a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

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