Israel hosting historic six-way US-Arab meeting

Israel’s relations with Gulf states and Morocco have grown since they formed ties

Source: BBC

Foreign ministers from four Arab League countries, along with the US secretary of state, are holding an historic meeting in Israel.

It is the first time the ministers from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Morocco and Bahrain will meet their Israeli counterpart in his home country.

It comes after they normalised relations with Israel for the first time during the past year-and-a-half.

The foreign minister of Egypt is also joining the talks.

Egypt was the first Arab country to make peace with Israel, in 1979, though relations between them have often been cool.

The six top diplomats are meeting on Sunday at a hotel in Sde Boker in the Negev desert in southern Israel and will hold talks on Monday.

The meeting coincides with a tour of the region by US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken.

He is visiting Israel, the West Bank, Morocco and Algeria on a five-day trip for talks on issues including Russia’s war on Ukraine, tensions with Iran and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.

Mr Blinken will also meet Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and later Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

His meeting with Mr Bennett is taking place at a time of growing Israeli fears that the US is on the brink of signing a new agreement with Iran to curb its nuclear programme in return for an end to crippling US-led sanctions.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 global nuclear deal with Iran and restored sanctions in a move which led Iran to significantly advance its nuclear activities which had been barred by the accord.

Israel says it believes a new deal will be weaker than the previous one and enable Iran to intensify its military activities across the region.

Israel also fears that the US might remove Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC) from its list of terrorist groups as part of a new nuclear deal.

The IRGC, it says, has helped sustain the wars in Syria and Yemen and bolstered anti-Israel militant groups in Gaza, Lebanon and Syria.

Mr Blinken has also taken a different approach to the Israel-Palestinian issue to Mr Bennett. He supports the idea of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, something resolutely rejected by the Israeli prime minister.

Talks will also focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with Israel having taken a lead role as a mediator in the conflict.

Israel has good relations with both Ukraine and Russia, and Mr Bennett has held several face-to-face meetings and telephone conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin as part of efforts to end the month-long war in Ukraine.

Reference

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